Published: 03 May 2013
The Arthritis Research UK Garden
With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 approaching, we take a look at the garden designed by Chris Beardshaw.
Chris Beardshaw
Award winning garden designer Chris Beardshaw is one of the ten million people in the UK living with arthritis. Chris has used his experience and that of others with the condition to create a stunning show garden to showcase the work of Arthritis Research UK.
The Arthritis Research UK Garden reflects the personal journey and emotions of someone with arthritis, from confusion and lack of understanding following a diagnosis to a point where they are informed about the disease and able to manage their pain.

The Garden

The garden will feature three areas, starting at the rear in the Veiled Garden, an enclosed shaded, woodland canopy which represents the ‘fog’ of pain described by those with arthritis and the confusion felt following an initial diagnosis. This area features a contemporary glass retreat, surrounded by densely planted trees, perennials and shrubs which include species such as Betula, Rosa glauca, Mertansia virginica, Digitalis purpurea Snow Thimble, Corydalis Blackberry Wine and Brunnera Jack Frost. The predominant colours are fresh greens and whites, with subtle accents of jewel like colour.
A stepping 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. Featured perennials include Anthyrium, Euphorbia White Swan and Astrantia White Giant.
The garden will then move to the final stage as it steps down to a gently sunken Radiant Garden section 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 and vibrant with a rich palette of pinks, purples, oranges and blues and featuring striking specimens such as Iris Supreme Sultan, Lupinus Masterpiece, Lunaria Corfu Blue, Tanacetum parthenium, Escholtzia californica, and Anchusa Loddon Royalist.


Planting Scheme

Within the garden’s planting scheme Chris has also threaded a number of plants and shrubs which have been identified by Arthritis Research UK to have a range of medicinal properties which may help relieve the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
Speaking about the garden Chris Beardshaw said, “I was diagnosed with a form of rheumatoid arthritis in my early teens and was advised after extensive tests and various treatment that I would be in a wheel chair at the age of 19 unless I had major surgery. I fought against that prognosis and was determined to be able to continue to do what I wanted with my life. It has taken many years of adapting, experimenting and trialling to find what works best for me. I have now reached a space where I can manage my the pain through regular, low impact activities.
“Being in the garden or in a beautiful landscape creates a feeling of positivity and I hope this garden will inspire others with arthritis to take back control and manage their condition. I want this garden to showcase the life-changing research Arthritis Research UK funds and for visitors to Chelsea to learn more about the journey that over 10 million people of all ages experience with arthritis.”
Arthritis Research UK Chief Executive Dr Liam O’Toole said, “We are thrilled to be working with Chris at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.  This is a great opportunity to for the charity to raise awareness of a condition that, despite the size of the burden it carries for both individuals and society, is overlooked. The story of the garden not only provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness of the condition, but also how we, as a charity, support people in managing their condition through our information and life-changing research.

Watch Chris take you through the plan for the garden in the video below.

Reported by Chris Allen  

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