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Arthritis Research UK 2013

For Chris Beardshaw, designing the Arthritis Research UK Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show evokes very personal emotions and memories from his early teens, when he was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis and told he could be in a wheelchair by the age of 19 years old.

Arthritis Research UK 2013

Chris’ passion and understanding for the work carried out by Arthritis Research UK has enabled him to bring an incredible depth of detail and narrative to the garden. From the carefully selected plants and shrubs, the differing textures of the hard landscaping materials, through to the selection of stunning figurate sculptures - the garden beautifully evokes the feelings of someone who has arthritis, from their initial diagnosis, through to the positive management of the disease and the pain.

Celebrating British Artists
For Chris, sculpture plays a highly valuable role in any garden and most of his design schemes include pieces that clients already have or wish to find.  The Arthritis Research UK Garden introduces the work of two British sculptors who have never shown at RHS Chelsea Flower Show before, with three stunning figurative sculptures.

Arthritis Research UK 2013

The style and materials used in each sculpture differ and they have been carefully considered to not only reflect Chris’ personal interpretation of the different stages and emotions of the journey through arthritis diagnosis but to blend with the planting styles in that section of the garden.

Arthritis Research UK 2013

Star plants

The garden has dense planting of trees, perennials and shrubs which include species such as Betula, Northofagus, Quercus, Rosa glauca, ferns and hosta’s. The predominant colours are muted greens A stone pathway pushes through the dense woodland planting and transcends into the Lucid Garden, where it opens out to a more formal space, representing the next phase in the journey and into a space of understanding and security, as the person with arthritis begins to learn from the advice provided by Arthritis Research UK.

Arthritis Research UK 2013

Running from the edge of the Veiled Garden right along the front long boundary under large Corylus avellana and up to the second piece of sculpture the planting begins to feature in subtle accents of colour in blues and whites with featured plants including  Euphorbia White Swan, Iris pseudacorus Creme de la Creme,  Geranium lily lovell and Brunnera Jack Frost

Arthritis Research UK 2013

The garden then leads to the final stage in the Radiant Garden which is protected with structural hedging and is filled with exuberant planting, highlighting a sense of liberation and enjoyment as the person with arthritis learns to manage their condition and to enjoy their life to its full potential. The planting is warm, vibrant and exotic with a rich palette of purples and oranges and blues and featuring striking specimens such as Escholtzia californica, Angelica archangelica, Papaver sonniferum Black Peony and Dark Plum, Echium pininana and Isoplexus canariensis.  One of the show stopping plants in this hot area of the garden is likely to be the tall bearded Iris Supreme Sultan, with its rich deep yellow/orange petals and mahogany falls, which hint at the corporate colours of Arthritis Research UK.