From wasteland to wonderland

When Friends of Horsenden Hill had an idea to turn an area of neglected land on Horsenden Farm into a sensory garden, they turned to Greenford Quay by Greystar to help their vision become a reality.

Lynda O’Hare (a Friends of Horsenden Hill founder) and Martin Smith (their Chair) saw the potential to develop a wonderfully tranquil place to enliven the senses that, unusually, could be open to the public free of charge 365 days a year. “When Greystar awarded us a Community Grant, I was over the moon because that land had been crying out for some TLC for so long,” declares Lynda.

Sensory gardens provide therapeutic benefits for people of all ages, especially those who are unwell or have disabilities or sensory impairments. With MindFood already running ecotherapy courses at Horsenden, the opportunities to use the garden for local mindfulness and wellbeing in nature sessions are huge. 

The garden will cover all five senses. Colourful planting, the heady aroma of blooms and the sweet taste of strawberries will create an amazing experience. “We expect the garden to be a haven for wildlife as well as our human community!” Lynda remarks. The swooshing of grass and crunching of slate pathways will add sound appeal, while wind chimes from a tall elm pole will melodically fill the air. Paths will be lined with bee-friendly lavender as well as twenty types of mint personally donated by Ray Baker, an Ealing Council groundsman.

Michael Boase, Head Gardener, has not only used his incredibly creative talents for the garden design but has also built the archways and fencing by hand with already-felled elm from Horsenden Hill. One particular section overgrown with weeds is being transformed into a seating area with a draughts and chess table.

The Friends are delighted at how Greenford Quay’s new pedestrian bridge over the canal has created much-needed access to Horsenden Hill and very much hope that residents will join the group and even volunteer. Martin asserts that only simple gardening skills are required – “people just need to know the difference between a weed and a plant!”. Help with basic DIY is also welcomed. The fruit trees will need attending to but the Friends run regular pruning courses that anyone can attend.

“Greystar have always been very keen to engage with the local community,” enthuses Lynda. “They saw the potential in our idea and we had several meetings with the lovely Nina Provencal (Greenford Quay’s Events Manager) who visited the farm, came on our guided walks and really immersed herself in Horsenden, we quickly established a rapport and partnership.”

“Nina has really understood our brand. Even though Friends of Horsenden Hill is just a group of volunteers, we have a sustainable, conservation-orientated culture and it’s very refreshing to see how Greystar’s brand values match what we’re doing,” 

“Greystar has made a little dream come true. This is going to be a really magical place.”


Friends of Horsenden Hill have more than 1300 Facebook followers and a membership scheme that currently costs £3 per year. They arrange a wide variety of community events throughout the year such as guided walks, wildlife photography workshops and bat watches. To find out more, please visit their Facebook page.

Find out more about how a Greenford Quay Community Grant could help your local project, initiative or community group >>

Apply for a Greenford Quay Community Grant

Do you need help creating your society's newsletter? Or to buy plants to brighten up your community centre? Or maybe your school hall needs a new piano? Every month, we award a community grant of £1,000 to help fund local projects (one grant per community group per year).

To learn more about eligibility and how to apply, please click on the link.

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