RHS Chelsea WellChild garden finds new home at special school

The WellChild Chelsea Flower Show garden has been recreated at a London school for young people with special needs.

Children and staff explore the sensory wall
Children and staff explore the sensory wall

The garden designed by Olivia Kirk, built by Outdoor Options in collaboration with Living Landscapes and sponsored by CQS in association with 100 Women in Hedge Funds, won a silver gilt medal at the show.

WellChild’s Helping Hands team, together with the garden’s designers and volunteers from CCR Mitsubishi and Experian, moved the garden from Chelsea and rebuilt it in the grounds of the Brook Special Primary School on Broadwaters in Tottenham, north London in five days.

The Brook school teaches pupils aged four to 11 with a range of profound and complex needs. The garden will give the children the opportunity to experience the sensory wall, musical instruments and pictorial meadow which were a key part of the design.

School headteacher Margaret Sumner said: "I know that all our pupils will be really excited to have it here and that for this summer, and many summers to come, it will provide a beautiful, sensory and calming environment - an oasis where children can be quiet and peaceful in the midst of our very busy, inclusive playgrounds."

WellChild chief executive Colin Dyer said moving the garden had been "tremendously hard work" but "very much worth the effort".

Kirk described designing the garden as an honour and said she had tried her best to bring the work of the charity to life through elements such as a sensory wall which protectively curves round the garden giving a sense of sanctuary and protection but at the same time hiding musical treasures, which brought themes of fun and magic to the garden.

"This wall is framed by two multi stemmed Acer triflorum which lean and unite to make two quite different areas, the central protected area depicting the very hands-on and supportive care given in the early stages of support given to a seriously ill child and their family and the outer area showing the on-going care provided by WellChild Children’s Nurses," she said.

Kirk specialises in creating healing gardens and has a strong track record with healthcare clients.

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