Garden designer wins ‘Best Show Garden
Royal Horticultural Society Beautiful garden with purple and white flowers, a water feature and pathwaysRoyal Horticultural Society

The garden is a place of solace and reflection for those affected by muscular dystrophy

A garden designer said she is “so proud” after her work was named ‘Best Show Garden’ at the Chelsea Flower Show.

London designer Ula Maria was awarded a gold medal for her Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden.

The garden showcases how an immersive, yet accessible, garden can offer a place of refuge to those affected by the muscle wasting condition.

After the show the garden was going to the Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine in Oxford where groundbreaking research takes place but is now going to a Hospice in Glasgow.

Royal Horticultural Society Beautiful garden with purple and white flowers, a water feature and pathwaysRoyal Horticultural Society

The garden has a focus on the muscular dystrophy and is inspired by a Japanese practice

The design of the garden is inspired by the ancient Japanese practice of forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, which means relaxing and reconnecting with nature through our senses.

A large knapped flint wall was chosen by the designer for its texture and form which is similar to muscle cells and serves as a tool for explaining what muscular dystrophy is and the devastating effect it can have on muscles.

The garden of more than 60 trees and plants includes a hub at its centre, which provides a sheltered space for people to meet and share their experiences outside the clinical environment.

Royal Horticultural Society Garden designer Ula Maria from LithuaniaRoyal Horticultural Society

Ula Maria said her favourite gardens are those infused with ideas about time and connections

The garden and landscape designer was previously awarded RHS Young Designer of the Year at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2017 which helped launch her career.

Ms Maria said on receiving the award “It’s incredible, I can’t believe it, it’s amazing.”

She said: “The reason for designing a garden this year is very different and special.

“I was approached by the wonderful people at Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) to see how we could shine a light on their incredible work and community.”

“I am so excited to be working with MDUK as I know how positive and meaningful exhibiting at the show this year will be,” she added.

RHS Chair of Show Garden Judges Liz Nicholson said this year was “one of the toughest years to judge” with some “fantastic narratives and storytelling” amongst the gardens.

She said: “Ula’s design is a wonderful slice of forest edge brought to the heart of the RHS Chelsea showground. It is immersive, relaxing and calming…it is a clear winner.”

Royal Horticultural Society Flood Resilient Garden Royal Horticultural Society

The Flood Resilient Garden uses dense plants which slows the flow, while water is captured and stored for later use.

Silver medal winner for ‘Best Show Garden’ was The Flood Resilient Garden, designed by Naomi Slade & Dr Ed Barsley.

The garden was designed to be a relatable, enjoyable and beautiful space to help reduce flood risk and to recover quickly after periods of heavy rainfall.

After the show, the garden will be permanently rehomed to Howbery Business Park in Oxfordshire, which is owned by HR Wallingford, an organisation that researches and develops resilient approaches to flooding.

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