Beardshaw's Chelsea garden to be "most significant" of his career

Chris Beardshaw has described the garden he will design for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 as the "most significant and poignant garden" of his career.

The plantsman and designer has created The Morgan Stanley Garden with an eye to it moving to Great Ormond Street Hospital after the show, so it must work both as a show garden and permanent garden scheme.

It will eventually provide a much-needed private and reflective space for the families of children undergoing care.

The show garden will be replanted at the heart of the hospital in a location almost completely enclosed by buildings. This restricts the amount of direct sunlight into the garden, providing added challenges for the plant life.

The enclosed nature of the hospital site has shaped and informed the planting and schematics for the garden. Predominantly woodland species will create a rich, green and verdant contrast to the buildings surrounding it. Sprinkled amongst this will be pockets of sparkling colourful planting, which will burst through the tree canopy or the perennial understory, highlighting the effervescence and optimism of childhood.

Beardshaw explained: "These lushly planted areas will feature some species of plants which only open when hit by direct sunlight which, in the final relocated garden at Great Ormond Street Hospital, will be for brief periods of time. Consequently these plants will provide a fleeting and emotional response for those who happen to be there to witness them.

"The garden also contains a reflective water feature, running the length of the garden which will showcase a number of specially commissioned artworks."

The main structure at the head of the garden was inspired by a Japanese Azumaya pavilion, which Beardshaw has designed in three interlocking sections. Each section frames views of the garden, while masking out the visual interference from the buildings around it.

The designer added: "We want this garden to play an important role in supporting the families of the children at the hospital and I feel very strongly that this garden has to work for them. That makes it, to my mind, one of the most important projects of my career."

To gain design inspiration for the garden, Beardshaw and his project team met with clinicians and some of the children being treated at the hospital. He said: "I was struck by the honest and open relationships between the three key parties at the hospital - the children, the clinicians and the parents.

"Although it's naturally upsetting to think of children requiring any medical treatment, our visit to the hospital was hugely inspirational and extremely positive in many ways. That important three-way partnership has formed the backbone of the triptych design for the garden. The formality of the essentially geometric lines are interrupted by the repeated theme of circles, which for me symbolise eternity and the unique perfection of a child.

"The team at Great Ormond Street Hospital advised us that there is a real need for an outside space for parents to find a little respite from the intensity of the wards. It needs to be somewhere which is only a few minutes away from their children, but which provides a restful space for them to sit and be reflective and to gain some perspective. The garden will also provide an area for clinicians to sit and talk privately with parents away from the busy wards."

This is the second show garden Beardshaw has designed for Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley's sponsorship of the garden is part of its Global Alliance for Children's Health. Since 2007 the company has raised over £12m through corporate donations and employee fundraising for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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