Horatio’s Garden at RHS Chelsea

A wheelchair accessible garden for spinal injuries will feature at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show for UK-based charity, Horatio’s Garden.

The show garden, designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg of the Harris Bugg Studio, will embody the special qualities found in all Horatio’s Gardens while incorporating influences from the Sheffield region, connecting it to the garden’s future permanent home at the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre in Sheffield.

The show garden, sponsored by Project Giving Back, will provide an immersive, restorative haven – the antithesis of a busy, clinical hospital environment. It is designed to give visitors to the show a sense of hope and transformative effect having access to a Horatio’s Garden can have when coming to terms with a devastating and traumatic spinal injury.

In approaching the design, Charlotte and Hugo have collaborated closely with the whole Horatio’s Garden community.  They have met and listened to patients, their loved ones, NHS staff, head gardeners and volunteers to understand the needs and aspirations of everyone benefiting from time spent in a Horatio’s Garden. Understanding that patients are often in beds for many months and that most in-patients will be learning to use a wheelchair for the very first time, their garden puts people with mobility needs at the very centre of the design.

Important sensory features

The design uses colours, scent, natural sounds and tactile experiences – bringing important sensory features into the garden to enhance the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of patients. A water feature, which can be touched at wheelchair height, animates the garden and encourages wildlife – a fundamental part of the magic that patients comment on when using the Horatio’s Gardens.

An organic and discreet garden pod structure, designed in collaboration with the architect Andrew Mcmullan, provides a year-round cocooning place for physical and emotional shelter.

Charlotte Harris of Harris Bugg Studio points out that the mission of Horatio’s Garden really spoke out to them: “Gardens as restorative, life-changing havens being the core purpose of the charity’s work,” she said. “As designers, we believe everyone has the right to experience the benefits of nature and green space.  Our design is about showing how meaningful, high-quality design can improve the lives of everyone in society and we want to show that functional and practical spaces do not need to compromise in terms of their beauty and aesthetics.

Hugo comments: “Our driving force at Harris Bugg studio is connecting people with nature, and from the outset we felt strongly that we wanted this process of designing for Horatio’s Garden to be collaborative – our role was to listen to everyone in the Horatio’s Garden family. Those voices and needs are reflected in our Chelsea show garden and have helped us to create a place where people feel safe, nurtured and restored by all the benefits of being in nature.”

Founder and chair of trustees of Horatio’s Garden, Olivia Chapple said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Harris Bugg Studio to bring Horatio’s Garden to the world-renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. We are so grateful to Project Giving Back for this special opportunity as a charity to create a Main Avenue Garden, where Charlotte and Hugo’s thoughtful design will enable to us to share the important message that great design benefits the lives of everyone. This garden will have such a valuable legacy in then forming the nucleus of our eighth Horatio’s Garden in Sheffield in 2024, where we know it will improve the lives of thousands of people.”

Landscape contractor for the show garden is Ryan Alexander Associates and plants will be supplied by Kelways, Deepdale and the Big Hedge Company. The water feature is being designed by Andrew Ewing and stone cairns by Noble Stonework. The garden pod fabricator is Weber Industries.

For more information on the show garden please visit: https://www.harrisbugg.com/rhs-chelsea-2023/

The studio has won five RHS Gold medals, including most recently at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 for its pocket park garden. Charlotte and Hugo formed the Harris Bugg Studio in 2017 when they merged their separate practices. They have created gardens from Skye to Cornwall and across Europe and the historic walled kitchen garden at RHS Bridgewater as well as the design for the glasshouse complex at the Gothenburg Botanic Gardens.

We wish the team every success in their planning and run-up to the show.

Credit: Garden image ©Harris Bugg Studio