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THE STORY BEHIND THE GARDEN

THE STORY BEHIND THE GARDEN
22/12/2016

It gives us great pleasure to be able to tell you the backstory and inspiration behind the magnificent Meningitis Now garden we're involved with for RHS Chelsea 2016, we're lucky enough to have been able to get the whole story straight from the talented garden designer; John Everiss himself! Over to garden designer John Everiss...

WHAT IS THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE MENINGITIS NOW GARDEN? Inspired by the courage shown by Meningitis sufferers, many of whom are children or teenagers, our garden aims to show the pathway into young adulthood . In 1985 a major outbreak of Meningitis affected the Stroud and Stonehouse areas of Gloucestershire, leading to the formation of Meningitis Now ( formerly the Meningitis Trust ) the following year. The charity is still based in Stroud and I have set the garden in a traditional Gloucestershire country house. Five sculptures travel across the garden from right to left. Two Cotswold drystone walls divide the garden with the right hand wall representing the disease. Unseen to the children approaching, one sculpture begins to pass through, reaching up for help. The second begins to pass through, but doesn’t appear on the other side showing the high mortality rate, something the charity really wanted to get over in the finished design. Between the two walls is a tapered gravel path leading to a covered stone seating area, appearing like a small folly. These represent the charity, giving both a pause in the Children’s lives and an area of refuge. A bespoke oak seat will bear the Latin motto of the charity with a carved stone tableau above, depicting the gods helping mortal man. The second wall represents recovery with the fourth sculpture beckoning and encouraging the one before. The last will be older and setting off to run, continuing with her life with the help of Meningitis now.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE GARDEN SCULPTURES... A range of five sculptures will begin with 7 year old boy running carefree through the plants. Each sculpture will be designed by 3D scanning a range of children and teenagers directly affected by Meningitis. An exact likeness will be cut out of block of wood, constructed from hardwood ply sheets laminated together. The figures will be finished by hand and then sealed to bring out the rich colours in each layer. The final sculpture depicting the oldest girl will be based on Lauren Booth who is 16 years old. Meningitis left Lauren with brain damage, hearing loss in one ear and cerebral palsy creating balance difficulties. Meningitis Now have funded the purchase of bikes for her and she is now hoping to go to the paralympics in Rio 2016.

WHAT ABOUT THE PLANTING? A 2.1 metre high Yew hedge will provide a backdrop either side of the stone building. An assortment of shrubs, herbaceous and grasses will balance out the symmetrical design with pastel tones enhancing the buff colours of the stone and wood sculptures. Orange is the representative colour of Meningitis Now, so I will introduce more terracotta on the left indicating the charities involvement in the children’s lives as they recover.

AND THE ALL IMPORTANT STONEWORK?! I will again be working with my friend Andy Loudon to build the drystone walls and pillars of the folly. The rest is down to you Chilstone!

Thanks John! Chilstone will be working on the Greek temple at the centre of the garden, producing two bespoke Doric columns that will be specially designed to fit around the dry stone wall of the temple, along with the roof entablature (freeze) for the pitched roof. All of this will be cast in our Chilstone portland stone in the New Year, and will then be put through an antiquing process to give it an aged feel. We'll be keeping you updated on the journey as it unfolds. Next up we'll be going into detail on the inspiration behind the stonework including the Greek mythology and Gods who make an appearance! Stay tuned and make sure you're following us on Twitter and Facebook to hear all the latest news.

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