Florence Nightingale’s collection of pressed flowers is set to be revived at RHS Chelsea. Showcased on a show garden designed to mark the bicentenary of her birth and celebrate the importance of the nursing profession.
Designed by Robert Myers, The Florence Nightingale Garden – A Celebration of Modern Nursing, will depict a courtyard garden for a new hospital and include plants found in Florence Nightingale’s extensive pressed flower collection. Including Peonies and Ferns, alongside other plants with strong healing properties such as Rheum (Rhubarb), Sanguisorba and Valerian, which were used in the 19th century and are still used in medicine today. Images taken from the flower collection will also be printed onto the perimeter walls of the garden.
Florence Nightingale took an interest in botany and pressed flowers from a young age. When she was 13, she began a botanical exploration with Margaret Stovin, a notable botanist of the day. The collection contains over 100 plant specimens.
The garden will also feature Florence Nightingale’s favourite flower – the Foxglove. The planting palette will include two varieties: Digitalis purpurea ‘Dalmatian Peach’ and Digitalis lutea.
Designed as a restorative space, the garden will be enclosed on three sides by a sculptural timber pergola. It will be surrounded by imagined perimeter rooms that evoke the ‘pavilion’ hospital layouts proposed by Florence Nightingale. Vibrant planting will highlight the importance of green spaces for health and recovery and depict the ‘nurture through nature’ theme of the garden – inspired by the idea that the shortest road to recovery leads through a garden.
The garden has been designed for viewing from inside the building, as well as for sitting in and strolling through with shaded places to rest.
Subtle design detailing throughout the garden will evoke key elements of Florence Nightingale’s life. Echoes of her handwriting will appear to be inscribed onto the timber perimeter walls to embody her extensive writing in support of healthcare reform. A collection of the recently redesigned Nightingale Nurse badge will be set into the garden path as small bronze roundels. Denoting both her enduring legacy and her ability to inspire the next generation of leaders in the nursing profession.
The garden is sponsored by the Burdett Trust for Nursing. A charity that supports nurse-led initiatives.