Green serene: How the spectacular new grounds at a unique refuge ar helping cancer patients

Maggie's Centre in Dundee had the UK's first Frank Gehry building, and finally it has a spectacular garden to go with it. Gehry was commissioned almost a decade ago, and his folded metal roof sits atop a little white house. It looks almost like a gingerbread cottage sat on the side of the Firth of Tay, overlooking the water and the hills.

But this is no gingerbread cottage. Maggie's was started by Maggie Keswick Jencks, the architect and gardener. Told in 1993 that her breast cancer had returned and was now terminal, she set herself the task of calling in favours from friends and colleagues to create a centre that would sit alongside a cancer hospital to provide a warm welcome and a refuge from treatment, waiting times and the smell of disinfectant. Here, there are always fresh flowers, a bowl of fruit and, most importantly, someone to talk to. With no appointment necessary.

Maggie's first centre was in Edinburgh, but now there are six, with many more planned, and, where possible, the garden is a priority. At Dundee, Gehry's building was linked to the main oncology department by a dark, shady path through trees, and a helipad dominated the rather brutal view. Today, five-times Chelsea Flower Show gold-winner Arabella Lennox-Boyd has completely reshaped the space; like Gehry and many others, working for no fee.

The new garden pays tribute to traditional Scottish planting, with a bank of species rhododendrons (still sweet and small, with a just-planted air about them). There is also an outdoor room, though its walls are just a few feet high at the moment. But the most impressive feature is a set of turf banks enclosing a labyrinth. It's this maze, of cobbles and grass, that causes a ripple in the space here today.

On one side, a group of patients are waiting to see the Duchess of Cornwall, here to open the garden. Some have delayed their chemotherapy for an hour to watch events unfold; one even has binoculars. Across the labyrinth, they face the group of invited guests: the Lord Provost of Dundee, along with many of the fundraisers who made the landscape possible.

The press release makes reference to the medieval maze of repentance at Chartres, a model for Lennox-Boyd. But the lady with the binoculars, Sheena, who now volunteers at the Dundee centre, has her own interpretation: "As you walk into the labyrinth, you leave the outside world and your troubles behind. And as you walk, you gradually move towards the middle, centring yourself. When you arrive, you've found yourself again and you can walk out feeling more peaceful." Which is an apt description of the work of Maggie's itself.

For information:

Get centered: Landscapes that lull

Charles Jencks was Maggie's husband, and his gardens cut mathematical curves and geometrical forms into the landscape. See his landforms at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Open daily, 10am-5pm. Free.

Westminster Abbey's cloisters and garden offer peace and quiet in the centre of London, while you try to imagine life in the 14th- century. The green square in the centre focused the mind while the monk made the circular walk around it. Free.

Longleat Maze has six elevated bridges from which to work out a strategy around it. Sixteen-thousand yew trees provide at least a mile's walk, and Google Maps makes solving mazes simpler – just print out an image before leaving home. £4 to enter, with another £3 to try the maze. Open daily till November

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam