RHS Flower Show Tatton Park ‘Remember Me’ Dementia Garden
October 19, 2018 - Author: Garden_Designer
The Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity launched their ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal in 2017 to raise £1.5 million to enhance the dementia and cognitive impairment facilities at Leighton Hospital in Crewe. In support of this appeal, The Cheshire Garden collaborated with the Charity, designing a scheme for the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to raise awareness of dementia and its impact on the people of Cheshire. The finished scheme was awarded one of only three highly coveted spots in the Future Spaces category at the show which focusses on innovative approaches to developing outdoor spaces to meet contemporary and future needs.
The Cheshire Garden interpreted the Future Spaces theme by creating a conceptual garden which was rich in symbolism and designed to educate visitors about the journey taken by dementia patients. The title of the garden, ‘Remember Me’, was chosen in reference to the tendency of those with dementia to find memories from earlier periods in their lives easier to recall than those from the shorter term. Although it was not conceived as a therapy garden, ‘Remember Me’ included a number of elements designed to evoke personal memories, provide stimulation or create a comforting environment, with a view to inspiring visitors to develop spaces specifically for those with dementia to enjoy.
The Completed Garden
The Cheshire Garden chose a distinctive hexagonal shape for the garden both to promote a feeling of enclosure and security for its users and as a representation of the extensive support network required by a dementia patient, and this shape recurred throughout the design.
Entry to the garden was via ‘The Room of Inklings’, a specially commissioned wooden structure created by local artist Wendy Connelly of RAW-i Studios which replicated the hexagonal shape. The walls of the room comprised fascinating panels inset with bottles holding objects such as buttons, marbles and shells, while within were found rummage drawers containing tools and other everyday items. These features were designed to trigger memories, provide a comforting familiarity, and to stimulate conversation.
Emerging from ‘The Room of Inklings’ visitors entered an open space which allowed people to wander freely without feeling trapped. Hard landscaping materials were chosen which were mellow in colour with a uniform surface and texture, avoiding the use of shiny materials which those with dementia can perceive as water or unsettling black voids.
The centre piece of the garden was a floor clock set to 5 o’clock, a time of day when dementia patients can become agitated as they associate it with a period of activity such as coming home from work, cooking a meal or spending time with children. The clock hands also pointed to a washing line and a basket representing a comforting repetitious task.
The surrounding planting scheme was designed both to incorporate traditional cottage garden flowers which would be familiar to visitors, stimulating memories and providing pleasure, and to symbolise the journey taken by dementia patients from initial diagnosis to full-time care.
At the start of the journey were found bold blocks of brightly coloured plants such as Kniphofia, Antirrhinum and Dahlia, representing clarity of thought. This then gave way to a border of more integrated and less defined planting using a palate of more muted pinks and purples such as Delphinium, Dianthus and Lavatera, representing the muddled gaps in memory that begin to appear.
The journey concluded with a naturalistic wildflower meadow within which were positioned three old style hospital beds, symbolising the later stages of dementia where patients require full-time care. These were filled with fragrant herbs such as Chamomile and Galium triflorum, also known as Sweet-Scented Bedstraw,which are said to have therapeutic benefits. To the rear of each of the beds were positioned Corten steel panels laser cut with different flowers, echoing the dementia ward where flower images are used to identify each patient’s bed.
All of the design elements described above came together to create a space which worked both to provide a coherent and harmonious garden environment and as a stimulating and informative depiction of the condition of dementia.
The Cheshire Garden was delighted that the high quality of the ‘Remember Me’ garden was recognised by being awarded a Silver-Gilt medal in the Future Spaces category by judges at the 2017 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park. It was particularly gratifying that, with so many visitors to the Show and the subsequent publicity the garden received, The Cheshire Garden helped to bring attention to the Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity ‘Everybody knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal. If you are inspired by what you have read about the ‘Remember Me’ garden and would like to support the appeal you can Donate Here.
Garden designer Jane Bingham, of The Cheshire Garden, is happy to provide behind the scenes talks about her experience of presenting a show garden at RHS Flower Show Tatton Park to gardening clubs, WI groups and other interested parties. Please contact The Cheshire Garden to make arrangements.
“We spend more time out here than we ever did before. Every time we come out there’s a different plant that’s come out or flower. It’s just wonderful, absolutely lovely.”
My clients work from home and wanted a beautiful English garden space surrounded by flowers that they could take a break in at different times of the day and enjoy from their conservatory on less sunny days.
Their garden is split in two with a shaded area at the very back and a more sunny area by the house. The existing garden had a wall immediately outside the back door with limited space to put a large table and chairs and a very dark corner which was unusable.
They like informal and loved the idea of curved lines and a relaxed planting style that would work well in the mix of shaded and sunny areas. My clients are quite quirky with a designer water butt and a flagpole in their garden. They like colour and wanted a scheme that included reds, purples, pinks and whites. Many of their existing plants had been given to them by their parents and naturally held special memories so they were keen to incorporate these into the new garden scheme. Listening to the birdsong is one of the ways my clients relax and they were keen to make the garden friendly to all wildlife, including the ground dwelling leaf cutter bees already in residence buzzing around. As well as the rear garden, the design brief included a new front garden with a hard brick paved area for two cars and a path that led from the front to the rear.
As a designer, I’m influenced by children’s stories and love the idea of a magical garden that comes to life. My design for this garden is curvilinear with sinuous pathways – to create a mini woodland walk that reminds me of the yellow brick road through the wood in The Wizard of Oz. I’ve followed this through into the front garden with a curvy path detail leading to the front door.
In keeping with my clients’ desire to relax and enjoy their garden as much as possible through the day, I designed a circular patio area of sandstone edged with clay pavers. The spacious patio can seat 10 people for dining around a large table as well as being large enough to entertain many others for drinks when the weather is fine.
An enchanted woodland area in the bottom corner of the garden where an old pond had previously been complements this.
The completed garden
Sandstone blocks have been used for the pathways and to encircle the sandstone patio areas and these create the distinctive ‘yellow brick road’ paths and make them stand out amongst the planting.
A narrow path leads to an arbour seat in a corner of the garden that was previously dark and unused. Here my clients can sit and take in the full beauty and splendour of their garden at all times of the day. A hanging light in the arbour seat makes it a lovely and peaceful place to sit in the evenings as well. This corner of the garden provides a cool woodland glade where my clients can sit and look back at the house through gorgeous planting. Climbers on the fences soften the boundary areas.
I’m an advocate of gardens designed to promote well-being. This garden is so easy to step out into and to find a lovely place to sit whatever the time of day. The clients love to entertain all ages and the new garden perfectly accommodates swing ball, children running along the little pathways and people sitting around drinking and eating al fresco.
To encourage wildlife, birds and pollinators into the garden, the design included the existing ground dwelling (leaf-cutter) bees’ habitat, holes in the fences for hedgehogs to pass through and a bird bath, feeders and plants which attract pollinators and provide cover for birds.
Plants evoke powerful memories of happy times and my clients had a few that they were keen to retain in their new garden design. Favourite Hydrangeas, Forsythia and Buxus ball were relocated into much better positions within the garden and fuchsias, lilac, holly, Pieris, cherry and apple trees also found a home in their new scheme.
The planting scheme delivers colour and interest in the garden all year round. From early and later spring flowering bulbs, blossom, scent, evergreens, perennials flowering in spring, summer and early autumn to autumn colour and structure provided by the hydrangea flower heads. There’s always something for the clients to enjoy in their garden regardless of the season.
The long wall of the garage is enhanced by three circular beds filled with rosemary, clematis and tomato plants which are lit up by spotlights at night.
Final thought from the client
“We’re spending a lot of money and if we’d done it ourselves we would have spent a lot more and not got what we’ve got here. I think she’s [Jane] just wonderful.”
We were absolutely delighted to be awarded a Silver-Gilt in the Future Spaces category at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park for our ‘Remember Me’ garden. We created the design and built the garden for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity to generate awareness about dementia and its effects amongst the people of Cheshire and their families.
Our design concept focused on evoking memories in order to enhance the person with dementia’s experience of their environment and reduce agitation and distress. We created a ‘home from home’ outdoor space where people with dementia or a cognitive impairment could enjoy the freedom to be themselves. The aim of the garden was to educate and inform visitors of the journey that someone with dementia takes, from first diagnosis through to potentially, 24 hour care.
We used flowers and herbs to express the degeneration of the mind, from bright, vivid snapdragons to white flowers, representing gaps in memory, and a wild flower meadow to show confusion. Our design incorporated hospital beds with calming herbs and head boards with cut out flower features to replicate Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity’s approach to dementia care. A hexagonal structure called the ‘Room of Inklings’, designed and built by international artist Wendy Connelly of RAW-I Studios, also created intrigue for our visitors with all sorts of artefacts used to conjure nostalgia for the past and childhood memories.
We were very proud that the garden generated so much interest for Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity’s ‘Everybody knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal. We are so grateful to our main sponsors 4 Your Home part of Qualtex Ltd and County Homesearch as well as all the other organisations and individuals who contributed to make it all possible.
Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity and the team behind the ‘Remember Me’ Garden would be grateful for your support of the ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ Dementia Appeal, whether a local business, group or individual you can donate by visiting Mid Cheshire Hospitals Charity online by visiting www.mchcharity.org or contact at Emma Robertson 01270 273 248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Room of Inklings construction with Greenbelt Landscapes in Cheshire on Wednesday 31st May 2017.
Today was the start of the construction of the ‘Room of Inklings’, which has been created by Wendy Connelly of RAW-i Studios.
On a fine Summer’s day our talented landscaper Matt was busy cutting the timber while we checked out logistics for deliveries into Tatton for the build-up to the main event.
A run down from the day:
• Unusual shapes required precision measurements and angles in order to cut the timber to size;
• Template created so that each of the posts are cut correctly – particularly love the effect of the grain in the timber;
• The timber proved a challenge because it was live and moving. We did, however, achieve the authentic reclaimed look we were after, so we’re all happy;
• One of the wall panels was successfully installed in the background producing a beautiful canvas of waney and rustic wood with a ‘live’ edge.
• We still can’t quite believe that, in just two weeks, the whole structure will have been built. Finally, we’ll check that it all fits together as designed and then all that’s left to do is add the final finishing touches and voilà!