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Shore Leave Haslar

I can barely believe this, but I've somehow managed to go a whole month without taking a single photo in my garden! I think it's because it has been very wet, so I've barely been outside. Instead I'm catching up with some old material, in this case a visit I made back in September to Shore Leave Haslar.

Shore Leave Haslar is a 3 acre walled memorial garden located in a quiet corner of the former Royal Hospital Haslar in Gosport. It serves as a horticultural therapy project for Service Veterans who have physical and mental health support needs. It's usually open to the public one day a month in the summer, but due to Covid-19 restrictions this has not been the case in 2020. I was lucky enough to visit as part of the Gosport Heritage Open Days.


The garden is mainly wooded parkland, but there is a more formal area in the northeast corner with greenhouses, polytunnels and raised beds. This area combines flower beds with a kitchen garden. Elsewhere there are a pond, rockery and the remains of the old hopsital cemetery, with most of the remaining gravestones concentrated in the southern corner. In the parkland area trees are interspersed with occasional beds. There are seating areas around the site, pergolas and a pond. When I visited there were stalls selling crafts (many made by the veterans), plants, produce and refreshments. I loved the garden and very much enjoyed my visit.

The Formal Area

Raised beds with woodchip paths between them sporting a wide range of vegetables and flowers:

Top to bottom and left to right: 1& 2 - the squash pergola and some of its fruit, 3 & 4 - raised beds in the kitchen garden, 5 - a view into one of the polytunnels, 6 & 7 - some of the many flowers, 8 - a display of bonsai trees.

The Woodland

This is a grassy area planted with some interesting trees. I particularly liked the way that beds had been carved out in apparently random spots, presumably created by individual veterans as their own projects; some had clearly been abandoned and were rapidly re-wilding, others were still being carefully managed. I suspect something similar accounts for the group of young acers I found in one area. These individual touches made for a very unusual, quirky design, far removed from the carefully planned layouts I usually see, and for me they really brought the garden to life.

Top to bottom and left to right: 1& 2 - views of the woodland area, 3 - a seating area in one corner, 4&5 - beds have been created at intervals in the woodland, 6 - a small stand of acers


The gardens contain lots of features designed to encourage wildlife:

Top to bottom and left to right: 1 - hips left on rose bushes, 2&3 - wilfdlife pond, 4 - a beautiful twisted tree with a log pile at its base to encourage minibeasts, 5&6 - insect hotels, 7&8 - bird houses

Other features

Home and garden items have been re-purposed or simply left among the plants to add interest. Enticing paths encourage you to explore different areas. A lovely ironwork screen adds interest to a remote corner:

Top to bottom and left to right: 1 - repurposed chest of drawers, 2, 3 & 4 - everyday objects and craft can add interest to borders, 5, 6 & 7 - paths tempt you to explore, 8 - ironwork screen


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