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Sue Ryder start conversations around grief at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This week, the renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show is hosting a remarkable exhibit that delves into the profound and often difficult topic of grief. Sue Ryder,… View Article


Sue Ryder start conversations around grief at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

This week, the renowned RHS Chelsea Flower Show is hosting a remarkable exhibit that delves into the profound and often difficult topic of grief.

Sue Ryder, the national healthcare charity and high street Retailer, is presenting the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden in the ‘All About Plants’ category. Designed by award-winning designer Katherine Holland, this sensory garden aims to provide a peaceful sanctuary where visitors can reflect on their grief or share their experiences, encouraging open conversations about loss.

The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden is sponsored by Project Giving Back, a grant-giving charity that supports gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Katherine Holland, who previously collaborated with Sue Ryder at the RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival in 2022, brings her own experiences of grief to this project. Her previous work on “A Journey” garnered an RHS Silver Medal, and now, at RHS Chelsea, she continues to explore grief through the medium of garden design.

Holland’s design for the garden draws inspiration from the history of lace production in Bedford, where the garden will be relocated after the show to Sue Ryder’s St John Hospice. The garden features intricate planting borders and York stone paving, echoing the delicate patterns of Midlands ‘Bud’ lace. The planting scheme includes a variety of sensory perennials and unique specimen trees, such as Heptacodium miconioides and Rhamnus asplenifolia, to ensure year-round interest and a space that caters to all mobility needs, including wheelchairs and hospital beds.

At the heart of the garden is a meeting space with three chairs around a coffee table, symbolising a place for conversations about grief. During the show, personal objects from Katherine and Sue Ryder volunteers are displayed on the table, representing loved ones who have passed away. This setting highlights the importance of discussing loss and supporting one another through bereavement.

Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, expressed her excitement about the garden: “Sue Ryder is delighted to be working with Katherine Holland on this exciting opportunity with Project Giving Back at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024. We firmly believe that together, we can make sure everyone has access to the right support, at the right time, so no one has to face grief alone.”

Katherine Holland also shared her personal connection to the project: “The Sue Ryder Grief Kind campaign is one that is so close to my heart. My own experiences of grief and other people’s misunderstanding of it have made me want grief to be talked about more openly, to help support those who are grieving and those who are close to them.”

After a rigorous judging process, the judges awarded the garden a gold medal.

Katherine remarked, “I’m absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured to receive this medal for the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden. This garden holds a very special place in my heart as it embodies the type of space I felt I needed when I was grieving, which I know will resonate with so many.”

Prominent guests have visited the garden, including TV presenter Kate Garraway and Emmerdale star Lisa Riley, who both praised the garden’s mission to foster understanding and support for those experiencing grief. Riley, a Sue Ryder Ambassador, emphasised the importance of sensory memories, saying, “Roses were my mum’s favourite flower and often trigger sensory memories of my wonderful mum and feelings of grief. This garden will provide a safe space for people to talk about and acknowledge these tough moments.”

Sue Ryder’s Head of Bereavement, Bianca Neumann, highlighted the therapeutic benefits of gardening: “Gardening can give those who have been bereaved an outlet for their emotions and seeing a garden grow can remind us that life continues even though someone has died.”

As the show continues, the Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden stands as a testament to Sue Ryder’s dedication to providing comprehensive bereavement support and encouraging compassionate conversations about grief.

Dr Rema Macarem, Chair of Trustees at Sue Ryder, encapsulated the evening perfectly, stating, “Grief is an inevitable part of life. It is not something that comes to an end or goes away; we can only try our best to learn how to live with it and grow our lives around it.”

The Retail Bulletin is proud to partner with Sue Ryder to support their mission.

Photograph credit to John Campbell.

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