A disease that mainly affects young people, for which there is still no cure, is under the spotlight with a show garden at the world’s largest flower show.
Of the 3000 to 6000 cases diagnosed each year, one in six sufferers of Crohn’s Disease are under 16 years old. A life-long condition, and for some life-threatening, treatment is expensive and becomes more complicated over time. But, with the right care, it is a condition that a person can live with.
This city garden for a young Crohn’s sufferer aims to engage visitors with its unexpected planting scheme and colour palette. It tells the story of how vital and vibrant a young person’s life can be even with this terrible disease.
For designers Andrew Fisher Tomlin, charity ambassador, and Dan Bowyer this is a rare UK show garden appearance.
The pair are using hardy exotics, alongside British native plants, in a way that will challenge conventional show garden planting schemes and palettes. They hope it will encourage gardeners to rethink their plant choices given the impact of climate change.
The garden’s canopy of tree ferns, its jungle-like plants and traditional ground foliage demonstrate a design approach for our warming cities. Cool tropical plants, chosen for their foliage and colour – and not for their short-lived flowers – appeal to a younger gardener. Hardy exotics like a Butia Yatay Palm, tree ferns, canna and ginger lilies sit with English native ferns and hostas in the shady and sunny parts of the garden.
The bright blue steel pool and the misters, which bring drama and add a tropical touch, reinforce the importance of hydration to bowel health. The gastrointestinal shaped, precision-cut, stone path and fire-pit allude to where Crohn’s strikes and what it can feel like.
Extreme fatigue, and the management of stress, is common for many Crohn’s sufferers. Our young gardener can enjoy ‘time-out’ here – and not necessarily gardening.
It is no coincidence that individuals associated with the charity are advocates of the therapeutic properties of gardens and gardening. Charity founder Gary Douch, who has Crohn’s Disease, relaxes in his family garden; trustee Professor Devinder Kumar, a leading bowel disease surgeon and consultant, is a proficient gardener and; Andrew Fisher Tomlin designs active horticultural therapy landscapes.
The garden will provide a launch platform for a crowdfunding appeal to raise £150k to study the efficacy of a novel drug and the impact of targeted diets for those with Crohn’s Disease. The research will be led by trustee Professor Devinder Kumar – Professor of Gastrointestinal Surgery at St George’s University of London and Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon at St George’s Hospital in London.
Over 10 suppliers have made generous donations of plants, materials and a unique humidity system for the more unusual shade plants. The charity will work hard to make sure the garden goes on to raise funds for the appeal. If the garden is not bought at the show it will be relocated to a private garden and become a fundraiser for an event later in the year.