Fisher Tomlin creates Crohn's Disease Garden for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show

Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer are making a rare show garden appearance at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show this July with the Bowel Disease UK 'Garden for Crohn's Disease'.

Image: Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer
Image: Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer

The 8m x 6.5m garden will be built by Cardiff landscape contractors Broxton & Moruzzi and sponsored by Bowel Disease UK - a unique charity with no staff and annual costs of £500.

Crohn's Disease mainly affects young people. Of the 3,000 to 6,000 cases diagnosed each year, one in six sufferers are under 16 years old. It can be life-threatening. Treatment is expensive and becomes more complicated over time. Young sufferers will have it for the rest of their lives, but with the right care a person can live with the condition.

This city garden for a young Crohn's sufferer aims to engage visitors with its unexpected planting scheme and colour palette. It tells the story of how vital and vibrant a young person's life can be even with Crohn's disease.

For the designers - Andrew Fisher Tomlin, a charity ambassador, and Dan Bowyer - this is a rare UK show garden appearance. The pair are using hardy exotics, alongside British native plants, to challenge conventional show garden planting schemes and palettes. They hope it will encourage gardeners to rethink their plant choices given the impact of climate change.

The garden's canopy of tree ferns, its jungle-like plants and traditional ground foliage demonstrate a design approach for our warming cities. Tropical plants chosen for foliage and colour - not for their short-lived flowers - are intended to appeal to a younger gardener.

Hardy exotics like the Butia yatay palm, tree ferns, canna and ginger lilies sit with English native ferns and hostas in shade and sunny areas.

The bright blue steel pool and misters reinforce the importance of hydration to bowel health, with the gastrointestinal-shaped stone path and fire-pit alluding to where Crohn's strikes and how it feels.

Extreme fatigue and stress is common for Crohn's sufferers. A young gardener can enjoy "time out" here without necessarily gardening.

Individuals associated with the charity are advocates of gardens as therapy, from charity founder and Crohn's sufferer Gary Douch to trustee Professor Devinder Kumar, a leading bowel disease surgeon at St George's Hospital in London. The garden will provide a launch platform for a crowdfunding appeal to raise £150k to study the efficacy of a novel drug and the impact of targeted diets for those with Crohn's Disease. The research will be led by Kumar.

More than 10 suppliers have donated plants, materials and a unique humidity system for the more unusual shade plants. The charity will work to make sure the garden goes on to raise funds for the appeal. If the garden is not bought at the show it will be relocated to a private garden and become a fundraiser for an event later in the year.

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