An Inspirational Visit to Maggie’s - an interview by Ian Ouzts (Updated 17/06)

Update: Thank you all for those who attended Maggie’s Garden Opening this year! It was an extraordinary turnout and a fantastic event! We’d like to take the opportunity to share a quote from Charlotte Brink, who expresses the centre’s delight and gratitude to all involved:

I just wanted to send a massive thank you for joining us on Sunday and for making it such a wonderful event. Wow, what a day! So lovely to be able to show off our beautiful centre and garden. And I do want to give a shout out to our Garden Team because it looked amazing on the day. 

I think it is fair to say we all left buzzing. It was much busier that we thought, and it was such a lovely atmosphere. I am delighted the choir was so good and engaging as well. 

We almost sold all the baked treats, and there are not many plants left now either. We doubled the amount of paying tickets, so lovely to welcome a lot of new people to see the centre and garden.

I am really happy to say it was a success, and we couldn’t have done it without you. 

On behalf of us all here at Maggie’s Edinburgh – Thank you!

I am really looking forward to doing it all again next year.

                                                                                                                                             -Charlotte Brink, Maggie’s Centre Fundraiser 

Volunteers at Maggie's Edinburgh Open Day ©Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre
Volunteers at Maggie's Edinburgh Open Day   ©Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre

ian-sgs.jpg ©Ian Ouzts
by Ian Ouzts, intern at Scotland’s Gardens Scheme

About the author: Ian is a visiting intern from America who is studying in Edinburgh for the month of June. At home, he studies writing at Grand Valley State University in the winter and tends to his vegetable garden during the summer. In his free time, he can be found nestled with his dogs, a good book and a steaming cup of coffee.  

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Since 1996, Maggie’s has been designing natural spaces to create calming, restorative environments for those living with a cancer diagnosis and their families. As Maggie’s first location, their Edinburgh Garden holds a particularly special place in the hearts of staff, volunteers and patients. There will be a special garden open day on Sunday 9 June 2024 from 2-5 pm. 

Buy tickets here

Visitors should look out for: 

  • Homemade teas 

  • Plant sales 

  • Home-bake sales 

  • Adult and children’s raffle 

  • A choir and café seating area 

  • Hidden surprises along the garden path 

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A rest in the shade
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New growth

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A spot for tea and watching the bees

In anticipation of this spectacular opening, we’ve interviewed Charlotte Brink below, a centre fundraiser at Maggie’s Edinburgh. 

Tell me a little bit about the design of the garden. How does it support well-being?  

Garden design was important to the founders of Maggie’s, Maggie and Charles Jencks. For us here at Maggie’s, what we see is the way it brings peace to people. In this garden, there’s something to see constantly. Something new is growing every week. The landscape in early springtime looks one way, and in August it’s going to look completely different. It’s really beautiful. Also, we are at the hospital grounds, but you can’t really tell that we are at the hospital grounds, and it’s all about bringing that peace. If you’re going through a cancer treatment, there could be a lot of sorrow or worries. Having these green spaces where you can sit and absorb the information, or while you’re going through treatments, is calming. It’s about how to fight anxiety while undergoing a cancer diagnosis.  


How has the garden changed over time? Any new additions or plans for the future?  

The garden itself was originally located on the other side of the centre. In 2001 we extended the big building, and in 2017 we extended on the other side, which meant that we moved the garden behind. This is a fairly newly planted and young garden. The centre itself started as a really small, derelict building that Maggie convinced the hospital to renovate. The architect for the building, Richard Murphy, designed the space inside and outside with hidden nooks so that you can disappear when you want to be at peace, or you can sit on the kitchen table and socialise. The kitchen table is where you have your conversations. It can be your daily conversation, what’s happened at school or what you’re planning for the week. It’s a nice, relaxed atmosphere. It’s very important that the centre and the garden bring those two together. When you walk up the path from the bottom of the garden, you can see the colours of the main centre through the trees. The inside and the outside really blend together. It’s a beautiful symmetry.  


What makes this particular garden special?  

While you’re going through something very difficult, you can find peace here. Maggie’s is so wonderful because we have a team of cancer specialists and psychologists, and patients are allowed to have these fears and worries. The garden is a place where you can just sit and have a one-on-one with a cancer specialist, or just enjoy a moment of solitude. It’s a way of meditation, I would say. I think people see it as a way to get away from the wards and just get some air.  


Are there any sort of special plans or highlights during the opening that visitors should look out for?  

We will have a plant sale, a bake sale, a raffle, and we’ve been donated apple trees from a nursery garden centre, which is very kind. We also have a children’s raffle with a gigantic toy dragon donated by a lovely lady and a garden business owner that will be helping with the plant sale. The centre is not open for its normal operations on a Sunday, so it’s accessible for people to enjoy the garden and the centre in a different way. It’s going to be a lovely, relaxed Sunday. Oh, and we also have someone that has donated a whole bunch of books which will be hidden in the garden on the day for children and adults to find and keep, along with a choir coming to sing for us. It’s going to be amazing. It’s all people’s kindness and donations.  


Regarding the opening, is there anything in particular that you are most excited about? 

I’m just hoping there’s going to be loads of people coming to enjoy it. I love the joy people get when they walk through the garden and see the centre. I’m also hoping it’s going to be nice weather. It’s the second time we’ve done this opening with Scotland’s Gardens, and last year we didn’t really know what to expect. Now that this is our second time, we’re more prepared and we hope so many people are coming to see it. We’re already selling tickets, which is lovely. I hope it’s going to be extremely busy, and I’m looking forward to seeing the main gardeners, Janet and Margaret, receive compliments for the garden because they really shine when speaking about the garden. And, hopefully, there will be a lot of tasty home-bakes.  


Whats something that you wish people knew more about Maggie’s? 

That it’s open for everyone, it’s free, and it’s not just for people with cancer but also for their families and friends. It’s for anyone who loves someone going through a cancer diagnosis. You don’t need an appointment and you can just come in. We do prehab classes, as well as preparing people for surgery or treatment. A lot of people find that stepping into Maggie’s is terrifying or intimidating, and they can come and sit in the garden before coming inside if they find that easier.  

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Entering Maggie’s

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A winding path

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The centre nestled in foliage
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The afternoon sun warming the landscape

Photos by Ian Ouzts

Learn more about Maggie’s Edinburgh Open Day and reserve tickets by clicking the button below. Please note that due to an event in the area and limited spaces, guests will be required to park outside of the hospital grounds. Dogs on leads are welcome, and there will be many activities for children and adults alike. We look forward to seeing you all there, rain or shine!  

Book here