The Hospice of St Francis is set to become the permanent home to an award-winning Chelsea Flower Show Garden featuring a 12-foot sculpture at its centre.
Peter King, 76, from Great Gaddesden, whose wife Gill died at the Hospice in 2016 following a short battle with blood cancer, launched a crowdfunding campaign to have the garden moved to the Hospice.
The Silver-Gilt winning Myeloma UK Garden was inspired by Peter and has been designed by award winning designers John Everiss and Francesca Murrell. It aims to raise awareness of the disease, which is an incurable form of blood cancer originating in the bone marrow and which, while treatable, is not yet curable.
Peter, who raised over £10,000 to have the garden installed in the grounds of the Hospice, said: “Gill loved flowers so we always went to Chelsea. I knew they had gardens for charities and so I thought it would be a fitting way to raise awareness of Myeloma.
“However, these gardens cost a lot of money and I was very keen that after the show was over, the garden was not just disposed of but reused and continued to thrive for many more people to enjoy.
“I wanted the garden to go to the Hospice because it is such a wonderful place and the services on offer are fantastic. Gill spent her final six days at the Hospice and when we arrived it felt like we were coming home. She said she was where she wanted to be.
“It also has beautiful grounds and so I hope that by giving it a permanent home, the garden will bring both hope and inspiration to the Hospice users as well as to those who work there, including the many dedicated volunteers.”
Rising from the centre of the garden is a 12-foot sculpture constructed from layers of transparent blue acrylic and modelled on Peter and Gill’s daughter Gemma Peace.
The sculpture, which weighs seven tonnes, appears to be blowing seeds and plants onto fertile soil below to represent new medical treatments, and as a sign of hope and growth. There is no defined path through the garden, purposefully mirroring the situation many myeloma patients face.
Boulders are used to represent plasma cells, from which the cancer arises, and overlapping steel panels that border the garden are physical representations of barriers in care and treatment.
The design team used cutting edge technology to create the unique sculpture, scanning Gemma’s head and arms to generate a detailed 3D digital image. This was then used to create the multiple layers of the sculpture.
“Kate Phipps-Wiltshire, Hospice CEO, said: “We are honoured and excited at the prospect of giving a permanent home to a stunning Chelsea Flower Show garden, which will not only enhance our beautiful existing gardens but is a testament to Peter and Gill’s love and Peter’s determination to make a difference for others.
“As we approach our 40th birthday next year, the garden’s name Seeds of Hope seems serendipitous as we sow the seeds for the next 40 years of our care.”