Wiltshire shows off horticultural talent at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

Garden designer Katherine Holland, who grew up in Marlborough, has won a Gold Medal for her grief-inspired garden for the charity Sue Ryder at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden, sponsored by Project Giving Back, provides a safe and peaceful sanctuary to sit within the beauty of nature, whilst sharing experiences or having a moment of quiet reflection.

With almost 86% of bereaved people reporting loneliness, Katherine is using her own experiences to create a ‘green hug.’

Katherine Holland

She’s drawn on her own experiences of grief following the death of her mother in 2020. She’s emulated the beautiful green landscapes in Wiltshire in which she sought solace during her bereavement.

Katherine said: “The Sue Ryder Grief Kind campaign is one that is so close to my heart. My own experiences of grief and other people’s misunderstanding of it, has made me want to encourage grief to be talked about more openly, and to help support those who are grieving and those who are close to them. 

The heart of the garden has been arranged to look as if three people are in conversation about memories of their loved ones. Objects symbolising those who have died are placed on the coffee table. These objects are being rotated during the show week as the Sue Ryder charity has invited their volunteers to bring their own memory objects for the table.

Planting/Colour Scheme

Plants carefully chosen for their sensory properties have been layered throughout the garden to connect people to the space. Influenced by the garden’s forever home at Sue Ryder’s St John’s Hospice, Bedford, the space accommodates varying mobility needs, and the varying sightlines from beds and chairs have been factored into the heights for each area of the garden.

The garden’s colours have a warmth to them without being vivid, underpinned by soothing greens and greys, with the colours and interest throughout the season considered. For example, Cornus florida ‘Daybreak’ has a variegated foliage, with contrasting on its wavy leaves that gives interest from Spring to Autumn.

The garden’s permanent location also influenced the planting design, with inspiration taken from a Midland’s lace, known as “bud” to create the shape of the garden’s paving and planting zones.

Relocation after the show

When the garden is relocated, it will provide a dedicated place for grieving. The steel framework around the garden will be repurposed into raised beds for use in the hospice kitchen garden.

Sue Ryder

Sue Ryder offers a range of bereavement support services, so that everyone can access advice and support for themselves, or a loved one, including free online counselling sessions and an online bereavement community.

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, says: “Sue Ryder is delighted to be working with Katherine Holland on this exciting opportunity with Project Giving Back at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024.

“We firmly believe that together, we can make sure everyone has access to the right support, at the right time, so no one has to face grief alone. We hope that visitors to our Grief Kind Garden will reflect on their own or others’ grief by connecting with this space. We hope people leave it feeling confident to start open conversations about grief and having a better understanding of what good grief support looks like.”

Find the garden in the Great Pavilion All About Plants section.

Look out for other Wiltshire exhibitors:

The Great Pavilion

The Botanic Nursery, Altworth, grow choice lime tolerant plants & digitalis collection. They hold the National Collection of Digitalis for Plant Heritage.

A new introduction this year is Foxglove ‘Apple Blossom.’ It’s a beautiful soft pink flower with a split corolla, loved by bees. It has a long flowering season. Great for the front of the border or pots, it’s hardy to -15.

The Botanic Nursery was awarded a Gold Medal. Find them at GPF100.

Trade Stands

Site No: EAW443
Natural and sustainable bath, body and home products made using essential oils. Inspired by the British countryside, the Bramley range was first created for the bathrooms at The Beckford Arms, in Wiltshire.

Haxnicks Ltd, Warminster,
Site No: EAE503
Sustainable gardening products

Henchman Ltd
Site No: WA184
Tripod ladders and platforms for uneven ground

Horatio’s Garden Charity
Site No: CW312
Beautiful gardens for NHS spinal centres. Visit their stand for advice and information.

Neptune Europe Ltd
Site No: PW225
Bringing beauty and happiness to homes through thoughtfully designed products, craftsmanship and using the best materials that will last a lifetime.

Poppy Sturley, Chippenham
Site No: LG902

Sarah Raven, Marlborough
Site No: SR131
Seeds,gardening kit, vases, gifts

Celeb spotting

It wouldn’t be Chelsea if there weren’t a few celebs around. Keep your eyes peeled.

Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) who was born in Salisbury, spotted in The Great Pavilion

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is on from 21-25 May 2024.