Nature to the rescue: Chelsea Flower Show focuses on the healing power of gardens
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The benefits of gardening for both mind and body are becoming increasingly obvious. Get the blood flowing by digging a bed, listen to birdsong while weeding, or simply sit in the sun and watch a bee land on a flower. This awareness is especially pertinent during this Mental Health Awareness week. And at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs from Tuesday to Saturday, there is a focus on the healing power of gardens.
Horatio’s Garden on the prestigious Main Avenue places mobility needs at the centre of its design. The charity makes gardens for spinal injury units and design duo Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg spoke to patients and NHS staff to find out what was important to them.
A water feature is at an accessible height for people in wheelchairs and hospital beds, while a shingle clad garden pod offers shelter with viewpoints out on to the garden at different heights. After Chelsea, the garden will move to the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.
Also on Main Avenue, A Letter from a Million Years Past by Jihae Hwang showcases more than 1,000 native medicinal plants from the Jiri Mountains of South Korea. In the middle of the garden is a Korean herb drying tower made by Alex Gibbons from Cumbria, one of a few remaining British crafts people creating buildings from mud, straw, and sand.
Tranquil: The Mind Garden by Andy Sturgeon at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Stock image used
Some of the plants will be relocated to the Maggie’s centre in Nottingham after the show. Jilayne Rickards’ Fauna and Flora Garden is inspired by the Afromontane habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla. It includes a medicinal garden, as on a research trip to Rwanda she saw local people using plants with healing properties.
Designer Darren Hawkes is using 85 per cent salvaged materials in his Samaritan’s Listening Garden as a metaphor for the journey from crisis to hope.
He is piecing them together in the Japanese tradition of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is repaired using gold to make something new.
Chris Beardshaw’s Myeloma UK A Life Worth Living Garden is raising awareness of the rare blood cancer myeloma for which there are treatments but no cure.
It is designed to be a spiritually reassuring space. The Memoria and Green Acres Transcendence Garden, designed by Gavin McWilliam and Andrew Wilson, also encouraging positive conversations but this time about the end of life and bereavement.
They wanted their garden to be tranquil and uplifting. Tall, multi- stemmed Gleditsia triacanthos trees create peaceful dappled shade. The garden will be relocated to the Memoria North Oxford Memorial Park and Crematorium.
Inside the Great Pavilion, The Natural Affinity Garden by first time Chelsea designer Camellia Taylor is inspired by how neurons work in the brain. Taylor, who trained in psychology before moving into horticulture, is making the garden for Aspens Charities who help people with autism.
Her planting scheme is predominantly a calming green and includes sensory plants for taste, hearing, and touch, as well as wheelchair-friendly pathways.
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