A young Ayrshire cardiac patient was amongst the first to set foot in an interactive garden at its official opening at the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow (RHC) on Thursday.

And David Wilson, 11, was absolutely delighted with the experience.

The Teapot Trust’s Elsewhere Garden, designed by the award-winning garden design studio Semple Begg, won Gold at the RHS Chelsea Garden Show in 2023.

It has been relocated and adapted by Semple Begg for the hospital to deliver a place of calm to set the minds of children and their families free from their health challenges.

In line with the hospital’s person-centred care, the garden will also be a home for outdoor art therapy provided by Teapot Trust – a children’s health charity that has partnered with RHC long-term.

David was born with a heart defectDavid was born with a heart defect (Image: RHC)

An RHC patient since birth due to his congenital heart defect (CHD), David is a lover of the art therapy classes provided by the charity and attends every Friday. He is excited about what this will mean for the classes.

David was diagnosed with a CHD when he was in the womb. He had his first surgery when he was 11 days old followed by another surgery at 16 days old.

Surgery number three took place when he was approaching the age of two and, frighteningly, David required another two unexpected surgeries during the same hospital stay.

David in hospitalDavid in hospital (Image: RHC)

He celebrated his second birthday in the RHC Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) with five major heart surgeries under his belt.

He had his sixth surgery just before his fifth birthday and all was going well for two years when, in 2019, he had a brain haemorrhage and required neurological and several weeks of inpatient treatment for endocarditis.

David will continue to require surgery as his heart grows and is set for another operation in the future. 

(Image: RHC)

His mum, Anna Wilson, said: “Every Friday, David goes to meet Holly and the Teapot Trust team. It is the highlight of his week.

"He gets the opportunity to spend time with kids who have had similar experiences to him. He doesn’t feel different to the other kids, and he can relax and be creative.

“His most recent projects have been creating wonderful board games with characters that each have different abilities and superpowers.

"We were excited to see the new garden and looking forward to meeting Holly for an outdoor art therapy session in the near future."

The garden mirrors the freedom and escape that art therapy gifts young patients. Plant choices were inspired by children's books and films – Wonka, Oz and Wonderland – where colour is vivid and shape and form are exaggerated, creating a fantasy theme.

The amazing gardenThe amazing garden (Image: RHC)

Nicola Semple from Semple Begg said “To bring the garden back to Glasgow is something we are immensely proud of. It’s a huge privilege for us as designers to lead a public project that is going to have a long-lasting impact and a powerful legacy.”

Retaining the spirit of the original garden, Snorky and Grizzly – two trees with an unusual form that make them look like friendly monsters – stand as the guardians to this inclusive space.

As a next stage development, a weather-proof art studio will be added to the garden as a permanent home for art therapy.

Teapot Trust’s CEO, Sarah Randell, said: “We’re delighted that the garden is such a beautiful resource for young patients and their families, and that art therapy will happen in it – away from the clinical environment.

"We’re so grateful to all our collaborators who contributed their best to make this a reality for children and young people.”