A garden which brought the wow factor to this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is to open at The Hospice of St Francis at the end of the summer - one of only nine of the 27 gardens exhibited to be relocated in its entirety.
The Silver-Gilt winning Myeloma UK Garden is to open at the Hospice on Sunday 16th September at an event sponsored by beauty product specialists, Glorious Brands, where its award-winning designers, John Everiss and Francesca Murrell (pictured above), will give talks about its creation and planting scheme. Dame Carolyn McCall, DBE, OBE and the first female Chief Executive of ITV, will officially cut the ribbon alongside Rosemarie Finley, CEO of Myeloma UK, who will also attend.
Local resident Peter King, 76, from Great Gaddesden, was the inspiration for the garden after losing both his wife Gill and brother Graham to Myeloma in 2016. After Chelsea, Peter raised over £11,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to bring the garden to the Hospice.
“Gill loved flowers so we always went to Chelsea,” he explained. “I knew they had gardens for charities so I thought it would be a fitting way to raise awareness of Myeloma. But 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 there, the garden will bring both hope and inspiration to Hospice users as well as to those who work there, including the many dedicated volunteers.”
Rising from the garden’s centre is an enormous translucent sculpture, built from a total of almost 200 layers of Arctic blue acrylic, and modelled on Peter and Gill’s daughter, Gemma Peace.
Twelve feet high and weighing seven tonnes, the sculpture 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 blood cancer arises, and overlapping steel panels that border the garden are physical representations of barriers in care and treatment.
A team from construction engineers Stage One, who made the cauldron for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, used cutting edge technology to create the unique sculpture, scanning Gemma’s head, hands and shoulders to generate a detailed 3D digital image, which they then used to achieve the sculptural shape. Each laser-cut layer is different, varying in size from over 4m by 2.5m at the base, to a tiny 30mm by 50mm layer at the tip of one of the fingers.
Designer, John Everiss, commented: “It’s just fantastic that the garden will live on at The Hospice of St Francis. Many people who go to a hospice are looking for hope and it’s a piece of art they’ll see as they come up the drive which represents a positive message of overcoming struggles - a message of hope, a source of inspiration. So many people I spoke to felt such a strong connection to it at Chelsea and I hope that visitors to the Hospice will feel that connection too.”
Garden-lovers from far and wide will be welcomed to the Hospice between 1pm and 5pm to enjoy a welcome glass of fizz, canapes, guest speakers, live music from steel pan pioneer Sterling Betancourt MBE and his band, butterfly and bee displays as well as tours of the Hospice’s seven-acre gardens. Tickets, priced £20, are available from the Hospice, its eight shops and online at stfrancis.org.uk/chelseagarden.
Kate Phipps-Wiltshire, Hospice CEO, said: “We are honoured and excited to be 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.”
Join us at the opening of the garden on Sunday 16th September
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