Aldeburgh Hospital Sensory Garden Now Open to Visitors

There is great excitement at Aldeburgh Hospital as the new sensory garden is revealed in all its Autumn splendor! This wonderful new facility is open, not only for patients and clinic attendees at the hospital but also for the whole community. Curious visitors can be found mingling with staff and patients exercising in the garden and playing on the outdoor musical instruments thanks to a £10,000 donation made by musician Ed Sheeran.

Anne Parsons (Volunteer Garden Team Leader) says “The most frequent comment about the garden is the powerful sense of peace and tranquillity. It is a place people want to return to and indeed the garden is open for everyone to visit whenever they wish. It is particularly lovely at dusk when soft lighting picks out the oak pavilion and the Listening Bench.”

Patient Benefits

The aim of the sensory garden project was to build a garden dedicated to promoting the rehabilitation, recuperation and both physical and mental well-being of hospital patients, day centre users, clinic users and general community.

Having reviewed the hospital gardens back in 2012/2013, Anne drew up a 5-year project plan for the League of Friends which included the potential for a sensory garden. Working with Matron, staff groups and the NHS, Anne was able to create a design brief for the Sensory garden based on patients’ needs which included:

  1. Somewhere for patients to engage in activities which increased their physical well-being (walking/gardening)
  2. Create a calm green space where the mental health of patients and/or community groups will benefit from when participating in individual or group activities
  3. A place where patients will be able to interact socially and be stimulated by activities provided in the garden
  4. Help patients recover more quickly and return home faster
  5. An outdoor space where Visitors and families can spend time with patients
  6. A quiet place for Hospital staff to rest and reflect


Community groups will be encouraged to use the gardens to meet and hold events. The paths are wide enough for wheelchairs and buggies and several raised planting beds mean everyone can access the plants without having to bend down. There is seating of different kinds around the garden most of which are made of wood with traditional benches and seating built into the raised beds to make it possible to sit amongst scented plants.

Project Team

The garden was built by a team from Roger Gladwell Landscapes and the exceptional quality of their work has seen the garden entered for a national landscaping design award. The planting will provide interest for every season, and give scent, texture, color, and a home for wildlife. All the planting was done by the hospital’s own award-winning volunteer garden team who spend hours every week making the garden a very special place and are extremely proud of their achievements.

Music Therapy for Dementia Patients

The sound element of the sensory garden has been provided by a Duo Cupla Xylophone, Large Babel Drum, Tubular Bells, Cherub and a pair of medium Conga drums

We asked Anne why she chose to include outdoor musical instruments into her design she replied “I wanted to include outdoor musical instruments in the garden for dementia patients and those with sensory impairments to use for music therapy sessions. In addition, local school children will be able to access the instruments for their music lessons.”

Anne finishes by adding “Please don’t think you can’t come into the gardens because it’s a hospital. Everyone can enjoy the gardens; patients like to see visitors in the gardens, the staff are very welcoming and from Spring there will be activities in the garden which can be enjoyed by all. More of this in due course so come in and see for yourself. You will be very welcome.”

We were initially told that the funds to provide the outdoor musical instruments was through a donation from an anonymous individual. However, according to newspaper reports, it is now believed that the singer Ed Sheeran donated £10,000 to the Aldeburgh Hospital League of Friends after the hospital took care of his grandmother in the final weeks of her life.

Apparently, the donation came from Ed's charity The Framlingham Foundation Trust, set up to help good causes in his home county of Suffolk, with an annual report filed by the charity revealing: "A donation to Aldeburgh Hospital League of Friends 'Sensory Garden Project' was given to assist with the purchase of outdoor musical instruments for the rehabilitation and recuperation of patients."

Grand Opening

A grand opening of the Hospital Sensory Garden took place in Spring 2019 with several drop-in tea and cake sessions planned so that the whole community can visit the gardens to see the facilities and their potential now the project is completed.

Benefits of Outdoor Musical Instruments on the Community

If you would like further information on the benefits of Music and Outdoor Musical Instruments for the community including those living with Alzheimer's or Dementia, head on over to our White Papers