Chris Beardshaw's picture-perfect Myeloma UK - A Life Worth Living Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 has been designed to be 'appreciated slowly'.
Chelsea veteran Chris was awarded a well-deserved Gold medal for his garden this year, with a design that includes patterned planting, a calming water feature, intricate artworks, and planted woodland with two temples and multiple vistas.
A tranquil and meditative space, the garden celebrates the emotional and psychological health benefits of engaging with, and being immersed in, a garden of exquisite detail. 'It's very definitely a garden to be appreciated slowly. If there were a horticultural equivalent of slow food, this would be it,' said Chris.
We love how the lush garden is filled with dappled light, and while the front border could be described as a typical 'Chelsea-style' herbaceous, bulb and shrub border, there are some modest surprises in the woodland area, such as the diminutive Adoxa moschatellina.
Chris drew his inspiration from conversations with people in the myeloma community (myeloma is a type of blood cancer). The circuitous path weaves its way through the garden to encourage those living with myeloma to pause, simply feel and be in the moment.
The garden is part of Project Giving Back, a scheme launched during the pandemic to turn the spotlight on select charities at the world's most famous flower show.
It's a poignant partnership too. It's been 25 years since the Myeloma UK charity began its research into finding a cure, and it's also 25 years since Chris built his first RHS Show garden.
'It's a complete crazy thing we do at Chelsea,' said Chris. 'No one in their right mind would ever set up Chelsea Flower Show now, because it doesn't make sense. The amount of effort and skill, the hours and hours that people spend creating the plants and the exhibits and pulling them all together. For what? Six days! It doesn’t make any sense at all. Of course, the gardens are now relocated or reused, so they don’t go to waste, but all the work goes to show the significance of Chelsea to horticulture.'
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