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Alan Titchmarsh tours garden set for Rushcliffe’s NRC at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

An RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden created with the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in mind proved a hit with celebrities at this year’s event, including gardening guru Alan Titchmarsh.

Celebrities including comedian Vic Reeves, actress Aisling Bea and iconic gardener Alan Titchmarsh toured the Japanese-inspired garden throughout the first day of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. King Charles III also toured the garden during the private royal visit.

Group photo with musicians scaled

The garden has been carefully designed to provide an immersive experience for people with a variety of disabilities, including a Koi Carp pond with viewing window to benefit wheelchair users, scented plants and contrasting colours on the paths for visually-impaired visitors.

NRC garden scaled

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The garden also included Hostas, Bonsai and Acer trees, a bronze dragon, wooden walkway and bridge, and a traditional Japanese Torii Gate.

Once the national horticultural show is finished, the plan is to donate an adapted version of the garden to the NRC so that it will become a ‘lasting legacy’ by providing a healing space for patients attending the centre with newly acquired disabilities and life-changing health conditions.

NRC garden 3 scaled

Nimbus Disability, a social enterprise company based in Derby, joined forces with Paul Harris of Brookfield Plants and Matthew Ball of B Ball Contractors Ltd to create the accessible garden in the Great Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Freedom Living Solutions also advised on the exhibit to create a fully accessible, enjoyable space.

NRC Garden 2 scaled

The NRC is a purpose-built 70-bed NHS facility which is currently under construction on the Stanford Hall Rehabilitation Estate near Loughborough, home to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre which opened in 2018. The NRC is part of the Government’s New Hospital Programme and due to open in 2025.

Miriam and General Sir Tim with Chelsea Pensioner

Miriam Duffy, NRC Director, explained that the proposed garden’s design incorporates features that encourage sensory stimulation, social interaction, and relaxation which are important elements for those recovering from trauma.

Mark Briggs scaled

She said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show enjoying the garden.

“We are incredibly excited by the generosity of the team behind the stand in considering this donation as this innovative garden would provide our patients with a beautiful and accessible sanctuary to support their rehabilitation journey.

Grand Pavilion scaled

“This immersive garden has the potential to leave a lasting legacy for our patients, serving as a testament to the power of nature and its ability to aid healing and inspire an individual’s recovery both physically and mentally. Our design team are looking at how best to locate the installation as we continue to build the centre.”

Alan Titchmarsh views NRC garden
Alan Titchmarsh views NRC garden

Nimbus Disability works to improve the lives of disabled people through providing advice and training to organisations, and they created the Access Card to support disabled people to access entertainment events more easily. They have provided advice on the stand’s access and immersive features.

Mark Briggs, Director of Partnerships at Nimbus Disability, said: “We’re thrilled to support and advise on a garden experience that truly celebrates inclusivity.

Grand Pavilion scaled

“For too long, beautiful gardens and green spaces haven’t been as accessible as they could be. This stand aims to change that by not only showcasing stunning design that caters to all access requirements, but that can also have a lasting impact for disabled people.”

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