Green-fingered volunteers start crowdfunding for Royal Free Hospital gardens

Fundraisers at the Royal Free Garden

Fundraisers at the Royal Free Garden - Credit: Archant

Volunteers transforming the once litter-filled flower beds outside the Royal Free hospital into a botanical oasis have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds for gardening supplies.

Volunteers at the garden at the Royal Free Hospital

Volunteers at the garden at the Royal Free Hospital - Credit: Archant

Since autumn last year, the Royal Free Charity have been meeting every Saturday to dig and plant in the communal gardens in front of the hospital on Pond Street.

They have planted bulbs that will will gradually flower throughout the seasons, so the beds are constantly ablaze with colour.

Volunteer Adriana Bassi, said: “Just one year ago, the beds were filled with rubbish and cigarette butts.

volunteers work on the Royal Free Garden

volunteers work on the Royal Free Garden - Credit: Archant

“The hospital’s priority is to invest in patient care so this is where we, as volunteers, step in.”

The 25-strong group aim hope to raise £5,000 to invest in plants, bulbs and tools.

Volunteer coordinator Linda Grove, a Hampstead resident for 15 years, said she believed that improving the gardens would deter people from dropping rubbish in the Pond Street flower beds.

“Once you make something really beautiful, people are much more careful about how they treat it,” she says in a fundraising video.

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The group have run into trouble with plans to erect a noticeboard without planning permission.

The Belsize Park volunteers say the notice board, made by a local carpenter, would be used for educational notices and recruiting signs.

“The problem is that the gardens are on land that is half owned by the hospital and half owned by Camden Council,” said “It’s absolutely ridiculous. The notice board will benefit the local area and is helping the council, but I haven’t received any help from councillors or officers at all.”

The council has offered to waive the fee for the notice board and to process the application as quickly as it can.

“I don’t want to make life difficult for you when you are trying to move forward with a positive scheme which is going to benefit local people in this area,” wrote planning officer Bethany Cullen in an email.