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RHS Chelsea Flower Show: Wheelchair Accessible Garden Awarded Best in Show

chelsea flower show

A Garden for patients recovering from spinal injury has won Best in Show at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. The garden was made by Harris Bugg Studio for Horatio’s Garden.

Horatio’s Garden is the first fully accessible garden to win Best in Show with wheelchair access being fundamental to the whole design process and is the second time the design duo has won the coveted award for a garden at the world famous flower show.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Since the formation of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in 1804, the charity has become one of the UK’s leading gardening organisations. The RHS has participated in huge projects and invested in the science that underpins their work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.

The RHS is also committed to inclusion agendas, along with being net positive for nature and people by 2030.

Across five RHS gardens, more than three million visitors each year are welcomed to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is also supported by the Newt in Somerset, a working country estate in Somerset, between the towns of Bruton and Castle Cary. The original Georgian manor house and farm buildings sit amidst farmland, woodland, orchards and acres of gardens – shaped over centuries by successive enthusiasts, including renowned garden designer and writer Penelope Hobhouse, who first opened them to the public in the mid 1980s. The gardens’ latest incarnation was designed by landscape artist Patrice Taravella. Influenced by thousands of years of horticultural history, mixing ornamental and productive elements, they are a feast for the eyes and the stomach.

Receiving the award

On receiving Best in Show, Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg said: “It’s unbelievable and still sinking in.  It’s a really special garden for us because of the nature of the charity. Horatio’s is a charity about gardens and how they help on journeys of healing and so it feels absolutely right that it should win Best in Show. We are delighted for the charity, and we hope it helps to raise the profile of the incredible work they do and are delighted it will live on to form the heart of Horatio’s Garden Sheffield after the show.”

On selecting this year’s winner, RHS Chair of Show Garden Judges Marie-Louise Agius said: “The standard of the Show Gardens this year was extremely high. What particularly stood out about The Horatio’s Garden was how the design had been driven by the end user, to be experienced by spinal injury patients from a bed or wheelchair.  The garden is uplifting, beautiful, and considered and for someone who has had a life altering spinal injury it will provide them with a wonderful sanctuary.  The brief and the garden was delivered at an exceptional level.” 

The full awards list is available on the RHS Website here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/awards

Final thought

The awarding of the first fully accessible garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show demonstrates a positive move in terms of inclusivity and diversity. It is vital that accessible spaces are celebrated, as well as become the norm.

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