Grand Designs for Chorley Gardener

Professional garden designer and landscaper John Everiss from Chorley has been designing gardens for more than 25 years

Already an RHS Gold medal winner several times over, John, along with award winning Francesca Murrell, have been working closely with charity Myeloma UK to design its garden for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The Myeloma UK Garden is sponsored by Bord na Móna Horticulture, Meyer Homes and The Christopher Laing Foundation and gives a positive message about the fight against myeloma, which is not yet curable.

The garden was inspired by Peter King, a Myeloma UK supporter whose wife, Gill, passed away in 2016 after living with the blood cancer for 15 months.

The large-scale head and shoulder sculpture in the heart of the garden is modelled on Peter and Gill’s daughter Gemma who represents the role of the carer, who is often a pivotal figure in ensuring the patient remains the central focus of a myeloma diagnosis. It will weigh seven tonnes, be 12ft high and constructed from layers of transparent blue Perspex® acrylic.

John said: “When Myeloma UK contacted me about doing this garden, I didn’t have a second thought about it. It’s been an amazing process and particularly enjoyable working with people that really believe in what they are doing The Myeloma UK Garden is a wonderful tool for telling a story and for getting people emotionally involved. I’m hoping visitors to Chelsea will come away from the garden knowing more about myeloma and also how they can support the charity.”

The sculpture will be part assembled before the show, as the gates at Chelsea are only nine feet high and will be fully constructed on the grounds. The garden is almost 40 x 20 ft and will be in the Space to Grow section.

John and his team have used cutting edge technology to create this unique sculpture. First, they scanned Gemma’s head and arms to generate a very detailed 3D digital image, which was then turned into the slices of data used to create the multiple layers of the sculpture. Stage One, which is known for, amongst many other high profile projects, building Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic London 2012 Olympic cauldron, will create the layers using Perspex® acrylic sheet.

After graduating from Myerscough College, John started a business designing and building his own projects, often doing all the work himself. During this period, he also bought and successfully ran a garden nursery, specialising in rare and unusual plants, which he included in many of the gardens he worked on. This gave the designs a unique and distinctive feel and added to his reputation for creating schemes that are a bit different from the norm.

John said: “I love the practical side of garden design and enjoy personally working on every project from tree houses to contemporary office, small courtyards and large country estates.”

Over the years, sculpture has become a much bigger part of his life, exhibiting his work at both RHS Chelsea and Tatton Park Flower Shows as well as taking commissions as individual pieces or part of an overall design.

On the sculpture, Gemma’s left hand is pushing away boulders and bog oaks. These are physical representations of plasma cells, from which the cancer arises, as well as symbols of the barriers and the obstacles people face in care when they suffer with myeloma.

The boulders weigh up to two tonnes each and have been supplied by Mid Wales Stone. The bog oaks are perfectly preserved ancient trees provided by Bord na Móna Horticulture. Buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay, these trees are incredible specimens that still retain their bark and can date back hundreds or even thousands of years.

Francesca Murrell has created the planting design and has fashioned the bog oaks to appear as if they are disappearing into new fresh plantings representing how new medicines, families and carers are taking over from the old generations. Gemma’s right hand is cupped and she appears to be gently blowing seeds and plants onto fertile soil below, to represent new treatment and as a sign of hope and growth.

There is no defined path through the garden purposefully mirroring the situation many myeloma patients face. Up to 60 different plants and trees feature across the garden including Taxus balls, Prunus and Malus, Anthriscus sylvestris, Matteuccia struthiopteris and Melica nutans.

Rosemarie Finley Chief Executive of Myeloma UK added: “2018 marks 21 years of Myeloma UK and we are proud to announce our first ever garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as part of our annual programme of events.

“Our goal has always been to find a cure for myeloma but until that time, we exist to provide information and support to patients and carers alike. The themes of our garden are care and hope which should both move and inspire visitors.”

The Chelsea Flower Show is on 22nd-26th May, 2018.



Tedd Walmsley

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