Florence Nightingale Garden finally revealed at Chelsea
After more than two years in the planning, and a couple of false starts, we were delighted to reveal to the public our Florence Nightingale Garden for Modern Day Nursing, sponsored by The Burdett Trust, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show yesterday.
The garden – which was created to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and to celebrate the importance of the nursing profession in the 21st century – has been designed as a courtyard for an imagined new hospital, with a pergola on three sides to represent the building. It includes three magnificent birch trees and a flowering Heptacodium miconioides (or ‘seven sons tree’), which were all greatly admired by visitors on the opening day of the Show.
On press day, our visitors had included four wonderful nurses from St Thomas’ Hospital and Amber Lickerish, an actress who regularly portrays the pioneering nurse at The Florence Nightingale Museum.
This is the first time ever that the Chelsea Flower Show has taken place in the autumn instead of its usual slot in May, and all the designers had to revise their plant palettes accordingly. Instead of the spring woodland planting that we originally envisaged, our garden includes autumn flowering plants and grasses including the stunning black dahlia ‘Verrone’s Obsidian’, and various varieties of echinacea – which is a medicinal plant, of course. Other medicinal plants that might well have been in Florence Nightingale’s nurse’s bag, such as Chinese rhubarb and witch hazel, are also included.
The garden was awarded a Silver medal by the RHS judges.
After the show, the garden will be dismantled before moving to a permanent home at London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital which was home to the world’s first professional nursing school established by Florence Nightingale in 1860. Fittingly for a restorative garden, it will be rebuilt on a site which is currently occupied by a Covid testing and vaccination centre, with views across the River Thames to Westminster.
We’re delighted that this garden will have a long life outside RHS Chelsea, and that we will be working with Bowles and Wyer again to rebuild it for the people who really matter: nurses and patients at St Thomas’.
All photos copyright Richard Bloom