The award winning grounds of the Hospital of God are a unique blend of natural woodland and traditional planted gardens with simple formal lines that enhance the character of the listed buildings within the grounds.
The charity's three gardeners maintain its almshouse gardens, woodland and Hospital grounds to a high standard. The abundantly planted beds and manicured lawns won the Hospital of God gardens the accolade of Northumbria in Bloom's Ron Grubb Memorial Trophy for the best grounds of a residential care home in 2003 and also in 2004.
Amongst the features of the grounds are the extensive flower beds that command attention and draw the eye up the footpath to the focal point of the old Hospital, the Brother House. On a summer day the residents are able to relax in the porch entrance overlooking the rose and shrub beds which give the Hospital its unique cottage garden feel. Traditional plants and shrubs are used extensively in the gardens. An example being box, shaped to emphasise the arched porch entrance to the Hospital thereby creating a uniformity between the buildings and the surrounding gardens.
2. The Hidden Herb Garden
Following the footpath beyond the Hospital is a hidden herb garden. The heady scent of the various herbs is released as the passer-by walks along the footpaths brushing against them releasing their aromas. The gardeners are always on the look out for new and unusual herbs to complement the already extensive collection. This wind protected garden is a sun trap and a perfect place for rest and relaxation.
At the end of the herb garden a footpath takes the visitor to a large lawn edged with well stocked beds and many unusual shrubs. There is a small pond and cascading water feature which takes the eye to a rocky slope on top of which stands the 18th century Hospital chapel.
3. The Footpath Leading to Woodland Area
From the lawns of Greatham Hall a gravel footpath leads down to the woodland area stocked with mature trees that provide an important corridor for wildlife including deer, foxes, squirrels and badgers.
The Hospital has one of the best displays of wild snowdrops that each year herald the first signs of spring. This carpet of snowdrops starts from the gardens and extends down into the woodland and the grounds are open to the public each February on Snowdrop Sunday. Just before the last snowdrop disappears there begins a magnificent display of daffodils which is the result of a recent three year planting programme.
The extensive knowledge and experience of the gardeners is used regularly by the residents seeking advice and help in maintaining their own plants and garden plots.
The gardening staff are an essential part of the Hospital of God approach to conservation working to create a unique and sustainable environment for residents and their visitors.