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An immersive, joyful and unapologetically beautiful garden, inspired by the voices of the Myeloma UK community

The Myeloma UK – A Life Worth Living Garden has been designed by 9 times RHS Chelsea Gold Medalist Chris Beardshaw, with the aim of encouraging visitors to take a moment to revel in the joy of the natural space, to be emboldened by nature’s delicate detail and, by definition, to reflect on the delicate fragility of our own lives.

Myeloma UK, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, assists patients and raises awareness of myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, for which the charity’s ultimate goal is to find a cure.  Personal stories gathered from members of the Myeloma UK community helped shape and inspire this calm, immersive and unashamedly stunning garden.

The Myeloma UK – A Life Worth Living Garden has been made possible thanks to a special donation by Project Giving Back, whose founders have a personal connection with and experience of the tireless work of the charity.

Chris said: “The foundation of our design emerged from listening to patients living with myeloma who have said they find personal strength and solace in beautifully detailed, powerful and transformative garden spaces”.

Consequently, the focus of Chris’ design approach has been to create a garden of delicate facets, deliberately intended to allow the eye to linger and the mind to pause; creating an environment that nurtures emotional calm, contemplation and reflection.

On arrival

The garden opens on Main Avenue with a sunny, richly planted mixed shrub and herbaceous border, in Chris’ trademark bountiful planting style, set against a backdrop of formal clipped Buxus.  This defined arrival space provides a separation from the informal, fluid, and secluded woodland paradise beyond. The layout was inspired by a patient who said of their diagnosis ‘the structure and formality you have in your life suddenly all changes’. 

A woodland paradise

Through a narrow opening in the Buxus hedge, the view to the garden beyond may appear unclear but a gently meandering path leads through, to reveal pools of light filtering through the security of the treescape, accentuating and elevating the beauty of the woodland’s floral detail.  The intended experience is one of gentleness, becoming increasingly optimistic and uplifting.

Integral to the structure of the woodland garden are nine large, characterful specimen trees, something which Chris has become synonymous with at RHS Chelsea over the last decade. The trees, which have been provided by Deepdale, include a majestic 8 metre tall Cercidiphyllum japonicum, Ginkgo biloba, Acer tartaricum ginnala and Cornus kousa.  Beneath the trees and shrubs is an undulating topography of an exquisitely detailed perennials including the muted tones of shade loving Paeonia, Zizia aurea, Polygonatum, Datisca, Convallaria, mingled with a tapestry of Hosta, fern and hardy Aspidistra.

The plants have been carefully selected by Chris and grown in peat free soil by leading UK nurseries Kelways, with whom Chris has worked with for many years, and 29, RHS Chelsea gold medal winning nursery Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants.

Classical temples

The narrow, charred oak sett path meanders through the voluptuous planting, leading to two neoclassical temples.  The first entitled, ‘A Life worth Living’, nestles within the tree canopy and offers a stage on which to pause and absorb the natural delicacy of the garden. Pared back and muted, this Temple is decorated inside and out with an innovative outdoor wallpaper from Wall&Deco the entrance is embellished with a stone and moss labyrinth floor designed by Chris. 

On the Temple wall hangs a specially commissioned artwork entitled “Peace be with you” crafted by art design and mixed media sculptor Patricia Mitchell.  The intricate design incorporates references to the differing leaf and flower motifs found within the garden, off set against a rich green Malachite painted background.  Malachite has a long held spiritual meaning, reflecting the essence of joy and known as the “stone of transformation.” The mineral is believed to help reveal and heal emotional pain by absorbing the pain into itself and is thought to be especially helpful in bringing ease during times of change.

The second, more opulent Temple, ‘Eternal Spring’ is designed to encourage lingering and emboldened reflection. The threshold features a beautiful limestone with fossil details and a carved inscription from one of Chris’ favourite quote*.  The internal Temple walls are decorated with a richer, floral outdoor wallpaper by Wall&Deco, lavish upholstered seating and hosting a glorious, suspended porcelain and precious-metal leaf sculpture (pictured right) by London based design studio Haberdashery. Gently lit from above, the feature casts fleeting and occasionally animated silhouettes on the walls and ceiling of the temple.

Enlivened by water

Linking the two Temples is the theme of water – from a quiet, reflective pool through to a Verdigris font by Architectural Heritage the space is enlivened by water movement, symbolising refreshment and cleansing of the spirit.   Revelling in the dappled shade and water-rich soils is a mosaic of Zantedeschia, Iris and Candelabra Primulas.

The essence of the garden

Concluding Chris said; “This garden has been created for someone with myeloma or indeed anyone who is in need of a jewel-like space in which to reinvigorate and reinvent themselves and to find a new perspective.

In essence, this garden is a reminder to us all to celebrate the moment and be emboldened by every precious embellishment and detail of a garden and to savour every enjoyment that we have in life be that a shaft of sunlight through the tree canopy or a tiny water droplet hitting the pool.”

What it means to Myeloma UK to be at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Myeloma UK CEO Dr Sophie Castell (pictured right) said: This garden will not only help to fund our critical work but gives us an incredible platform to raise awareness, reach out to the public and bolster our fight to give anyone affected by myeloma access to the latest treatments.

Chris’ insightful design for the Myeloma UK- A Life Worth Living Garden encapsulates what we’ve always set out to be for the myeloma community: a safe space to get to grips and come to terms with their diagnosis and a beacon of hope, support and reassurance.”

We cannot thank Project Giving Back enough for gifting us this thoughtfully crafted garden at RHS Chelsea Flower 2023 to mark our 25th anniversary.  


For further media information about Chris Beardshaw, please contact: Jane Southcott pr: 07787 527430 E: jane@janesouthcottpr.co.uk