Published: 14 June 2013
The First Touch Garden at Chelsea
At Chelsea 2013 we visited a small 'Fresh' garden with a big message.
The Neonatal Unit at St Georges Hospital and the close links with a charity called First Touch were a starting point in the design and construction of this small scale garden in the ‘Fresh Gardens’ show category.  First Touch is a charity supporting sick and premature babies at St Georges.
“The growth and development of the plants within this show garden can be seen as being at very different rates and in many different shapes and forms” said the designer Patrick Collins who used these varying aspects of growth in his chosen plants in order to show that the early stages of human life also have this amazing diversity of growth.

Designer Patrick Collins taking a closer look at his garden.

Journey through life

The garden concept was inspired by the cells that form the building blocks of all life and reminds us that life starts from extremely small beginnings. This small scale garden allowed visitors to get up close to see the details, as happens in the neonatal medical unit with doctors and patients.  
Water was also present in the circular pools through the display; these represented the importance of water in cell growth at every stage of the journey through life, even during a short life. The effect of light and shade amongst the plants and the reflections on the water was a reminder of how peoples feeling can change when they find themselves in difficult times and stressful situations.

The raised garden showing the reflective base.

This garden had many different messages built into it; however, it was also a great example of contemporary design that could be installed in many garden settings to create a highly distinctive feature. I was not only impressed by the planting detail but also with the use of the vertical mirrored stainless steel sheet support around the base which gave the impression that the garden was floating just above the ground. The main sponsors for the garden were Tendercare and Scena Productions LLP.
Reported by Chris Allen  

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