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23rd May 2022
Award-winning designers, Hugh and Howard Miller of H. Miller Bros are delighted to announce that their ‘Alder Hey Urban Foraging Station’, designed for Alder Hey’s Children’s Charity (Reg. Charity No. 1160661) in Liverpool, will be first showcased at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show between 24-28th May 2022 before being relocated at the children’s hospital as a permanent feature to benefit patients and their families.
The garden is mindful of children’s mental and physical health and is designed to encourage engagement with nature through foraging, sharing healthy food, play, relaxing together and being in the moment.
Designed by brothers Hugh and Howard Miller, the Alder Hey Urban Foraging Station is a woven landscape; it is about weaving together the young and old, green and urban, play and learning and Alder Hey Children's Hospital with its community. At its core is the aspiration to inspire children to lead active, healthy, pleasurable lives. The garden is infused with the magic of discovery inherent to foraging. Visitors first encounter the garden as nostalgic glimpses through rampant, blossoming hedgerows. Within, a sense of freedom prevails; explore, 'leave the path', get lost in your own world. A design language of woven forms associated with foraging are abstracted into a woven landscape. Precast concrete 'strands' make up a picnic blanket laid over an undulating landscape with edible herbs growing through.
Designer, Howard Miller said “We were really keen to work with Alder Hey to make a garden that celebrates the amazing work they do supporting children and their families. We’re a family business, local to the Hospital and many of our family and friends have benefited from Alder Hey’s care; they’re a big part of our community. It’s a real privilege too that we can move the garden back to Alder Hey where it will become a living resource for children and medical practitioners to use for social prescribing and other informal therapies.”
The importance of mental wellbeing, particularly in children, has been thrown into the spotlight during the pandemic and although this garden is outwardly about foraging, it uses this theme to address the issue of children’s mental wellbeing in an accessible and light touch way. The NHS’s 5 steps to mental wellbeing are all facilitated within the garden. These are: connecting with people, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others and mindfulness – paying attention to the present. The whole ethos of the garden reinforces this theme, from the way things have been designed with the child at the centre, the feast of opportunities to learn and pass on knowledge about forgeable plants and bush crafts to the mindfulness intrinsic in some of the hand-crafted features.
The planting scheme is drawn from species naturalised to the UK, that flower in late May and provide a contribution as forage to the garden’s users. The garden is not intended to be a re-creation of pastoral scenes of yesteryear but rather a stylised remembering of orchards, meadows and blossoming hedgerows. It is intended to awaken the excitement of exploring a new rich world packed full of edible wild goodies to discover. The colour scheme is inspired by apple blossom; whites, creams and blush pinks.
The Alder Hey Urban Foraging Station Garden is one of 12 Show Gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 that has been funded by ‘Project Giving Back’ to promote good causes while supporting the horticultural industry.
The garden will be relocated to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital campus in the summer of 2022. It will be positioned just outside the entrance to Sunflower House, a new building dedicated to children and young people’s mental health services, which is due to open in the spring of 2022 and forms part of wider plans to create a unique paediatric healthcare campus.
The garden will become an integral part of the healthcare campus and the green spaces that connect a cluster of state-of-the-art facilities. These include: a state of the art, specialist digitally enabled children’s hospital, The Speakman Building (dedicated research, education and innovation centre), the Alder Centre (specialist bereavement centre), a brand new surgical Neonatal Unit, The Catkin Centre (community services) and Sunflower House (devoted to children and young people’s mental health services). Sunflower House will be a state-of-the-art development which includes mental health outpatient facilities and a brand new twelve bed specialist inpatient mental health Unit.
The Charity’s 7in10 Appeal was launched in Spring 2020 by Shirley Ballas to raise funds for this new building and bought attention to the fact that 7 out of 10 children and young people who experience a mental health condition in the UK do not get appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. This new unit addresses that by enabling more children to access the treatment they need at the time they need it.
Alder Hey Children's Charity