The Florence Nightingale Garden
Thursday, September 23 , 2021
One of the gardens we were most looking forward to visiting at RHS Chelsea was The Florence Nightingale Garden (… Those long term Chilstone patrons among you may remember our beloved restoration of an original Florence Nightingale urn from the Nightingale family home? If not read on to find out more on that!) So we were utterly thrilled to see it firsthand this week.
The garden is a beautiful celebration of her contribution to modern nursing, bringing her remarkable history, and love of horticulture, to light.
Nurture through Nature
Originally designed for the previous year’s show to mark her 200th birthday, under a ‘nurture through nature’ theme, this garden is a salute to modern-day nursing, as well as highlighting how Nightingale held a torch to nature’s healing effect – all pertinent ideas in a post-Pandemic world.
As a 19th century visionary, Florence Nightingale championed the power of the outside within medicine, advocating strongly for hospitals with open space, fresh air and nature-filled views. It was this design revolution that inspired gardener Robert Myers’ modern-day interpretation of a hospital courtyard.
Adorned with yew domes, charming viewing pergolas and laden with naturalistic plantings, this delightful show garden has been designed to create a soothing atmosphere, paying homage to Nightingale’s ethos.
A Healing space
Many of the plants featured have a rich history within medicine, and would have been used by Nightingale and nurses of her era. Keen horticulturalists will undoubtedly recognise witch hazel, echinacea and fox glove within the garden, all still used for treating ailments to this day.
As well as plants with medicinal benefits, much of the garden’s surroundings have been chosen to create a tranquil, healing atmosphere – from calming grasses to vibrant perennials, it creates a multi-textured foliage that gives the space a sanctuary-like feel. History has come to discover that Nightingale herself had a strong passion for florals, seen in the vast collection of her flower pressings that have been conserved, this too became incorporated in the design, a further tribute to the mother of nursing.
A hospital with a garden view
Further homage to Nightingale is evident in how the garden has been made for both on-site visitors and on-lookers alike, with the view that it can be admired from a nearby hospital bed, as per Nightingale’s philosophy. This idea will become a reality when, after the show, the garden is replanted in London’s St Thomas’ hospital – a spot where in 1860 Nightingale founded the world’s first professional nursing school.
The Florence Nightingale Urn
Chilstone have long been celebrating the historical importance of Florence Nightingale within British history, with their meticulous restoration of an original 19th century urn from the Nightingale family home in Hampshire. The beautifully restored stone garden urn, along with 20 commissioned replicas, returned to its original home of Embley Park- a further celebration from the the nature-loving Lady with the Lamp.
If you’re wanting to explore more of Chilstone’s intricate work, you can book a visit to the 35-acre show garden, nestled in Kent’s plush countryside, or simply peruse a selection of Chilstone’s garden urns online.
Check back for more exclusive content from Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow.
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