The delights of Ninewells

I’ve been in and out of Ninewells hospital in Dundee a fair bit recently, not for my own health reasons, but in order to to visit delightful assistant no.1. She has unfortunately had to spend much of the past three weeks there.


Delightful assistants in Ninewells. Sandy the donkey is attempting to get his teeth into a bag of freshly picked pea pods.

I’m pleased to say she’s currently recovering after treatment for gallstones and will hopefully get home for good tomorrow.

As hospitals go, I quite like Ninewells. The wards I’ve seen are bright and welcoming, and many of them have wonderful views out across treetops to the Firth of Tay and Fife beyond.

It wasn’t until last week that we discovered secret treasures lurking outside at the back of the buildings. One of these delights was a garden containing a labyrinth.


Labyrinth sculpture at the back of Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.

Near this is a Maggie’s Centre (Maggie’s is an organisation that supports cancer sufferers and their families), designed by renowned Canadian architect, Frank Gehry.


Maggie’s Centre, Dundee, with delightful assistants admiring the labyrinth.

The delightful assistants and I were able to wander around this area in the afternoon sunshine during visiting hours. We all appreciated a little time outside as a change from sitting in the ward.

Beyond the Maggie’s Centre lies a large arboretum containing beautiful big trees, some of which are 250 years old.

On the edge of the arboretum is a welcoming hospital community garden containing herbs, flowers, vegetables and various interesting features.





One area of the garden has been set up specifically to appeal to wildlife and contained something that fairly gladdened my heart.

Small tearoom for visiting birds and beasties.

Small tearoom for visiting birds and beasties.

As you might almost be able to make out in the picture above, on a wooden block next to the tearoom there were a few tiny dinosaurs. Delightful assistant no.2 was very taken with them.


His spouse attempted to draw his attention to other things, but he only had eyes for the dinosaurs.


Delightful assistant no.1:

Delightful assistant no.1: “Shall we move on to another part of the garden now?”
Delightful assistant no.2: “I want to stay and play with the tiny dinosaurs.”

Getting from the hospital to the gardens wasn’t easy because the obvious route, signposted within the hospital, had been closed off. It took us over half an hour to find our way out to the back of the building by an alternative route, and almost as long to get back in again. On the plus side, we got to walk along a curious temporary metal road in the sunshine.


If you happen to be in Dundee with a bit of time to spare I can recommend a mooch round the back of Ninewells Hospital. The paths beside the community garden and throughout the arboretum have been designed with wheelchairs in mind and there are well positioned seats so that visitors can rest their weary legs.

If you need a bit of refreshment the cafe inside the hospital serves drinks and snacks throughout the day, and between the hours of 14:30 and 18:00 they reduce the price of all hot beverages to £1 each. A bargain.

On Sunday 9 August the community garden is having an open day from 14:00-17:00. Admission is £3.00 (children get in free) and there will be various activities, a plant sale and tea and cakes on offer.


22 thoughts on “The delights of Ninewells

  1. What a wonderful space to have next to a hospital – inspired! Sending my warmest wishes to Delightful Assistant No. 1 for a complete recovery, and hoping she is relaxing at home soon.

    • Thank you, Jo, I’ll take those kind wishes to her when I see her this afternoon. It is wonderful to have that kind of space outside a hospital, my only complaint is that it’s not easy to get to from inside the buildings, but I believe they are working on improving the signage.

  2. I am pleased to see the hospital has lovely gardens that patients and guests can enjoy. The care home my mom is in has a small garden at the back as well and I took her out everyday when I visited to enjoy the sunshine and greenery. Please give your mom my love and I hope she will be home soon. (I too would have wanted to stay and play with the dinosaurs!)

    • Thank you, Darlene. I’m happy to say my mum got home yesterday afternoon, a day earlier than expected. It was lovely that you could take your mom out into the garden when you visited her, it’s a real asset to have even a small green space to spend time in.

  3. That does look like a lovely hospital. I’m very glad your Mum is on the mend. Gallstones are no fun at all. We have recently been there (gallstones, not Ninewells) with my own Mum. I feel it would have been hard to drag my husband away from the dinosaurs too. In fact I just had a brief mental image of me having to carry a bigger dinosaur toy in my pocket and wave it at him to entice him to move on. Actually, a prop like that could be useful in quite a few situations I should think. It certainly bears further consideration.

  4. That is some hospital Lorna …more like hotel . Please give my regards to delightful assistant no 1 wishing her a speedy recovery . When she gets home can she supply delightful assistant no 2 with a pack of plastic dinosaurs for his amusement .
    I don’t know how you do it …your inner dedective finds a tea shop in the most unlikely of places .

    • Thank you, Cherry. My mum was joking that it was like a hotel when she first went in, but I think after a while the novelty wore off a bit. If you keep your eyes peeled there are tearooms to be found all over the place. 🙂

  5. I want to send DA number 2 the biggest bag of tiny dinosaurs I can find! Best wishes to you all — and lots of cups of tea when you all get home. Tracey

  6. Thank you for sharing this post and am happy to hear that your delightful assistant 1 is recovering…with the treks you all get on, she a good thing she can ambulate well! What an inspired hospital and grounds. Am so impressed with the thoughtfulness and care that went into the design of this beautiful medical facility….and how fabulous to have teatime set up in the garden 🙂

    • Thanks, Linda. My mum does in fact have a bit of trouble walking due to an arthritic knee, but she’s incredibly determined and very keen to keep walking, even if it’s at a slower pace these days. I was really surprised by those gardens at the back of the hospital, I think they’re a bit of a hidden gem because several nurses we asked for directions didn’t know what we were talking about. In any case, it is wonderful to have that area there and I hope the planned new signage will encourage more people to visit it.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Hilary, and my mum would sympathise with the pain you felt. She was worried it might be appendicitis at first because it was so bad. She was offered gall bladder removal but opted to keep it as they’d been able to do something internally that should prevent further attacks.

  7. I echo other commenters: only you could find a labyrinth, hidden garden, tiny dinosaurs, and a bird tearoom behind a hospital! Lovely photos of both the DAs. I am trying to find a little bit of time to catch up, and haven’t yet read your more recent posts. I trust your Mum is continuing to recover well, please give her my best wishes!

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