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RHS Show Garden Dedicated to Mental Health Seeks Construction Sponsors 

Garden designer Carolyn Hardern sits at a wooden table next to landscaper Jon Jarvis with garden design plans in front of them.

A garden designed to explore mental health and wellbeing at this year’s RHS Flower Show Tatton Park is appealing for sponsors.

Garden designer Carolyn Hardern and landscaper Jon Jarvis are working with Leeds College of Building to raise awareness of mental health within the construction industry through a unique show garden. The design has been accepted for the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park from 19-23 July 2023 but requires additional sponsors to finalise the project.

Titled ‘Constructing Minds’, the 20m x 14m garden integrates trees, ferns, and wildflower areas to create a sense of enclosure and refuge. Materials found on construction sites, such as concrete and scaffold boards, are included in the build. 

The wall to the left of the entrance into The Inner Sanctuary incorporates a metal panel perforated with 507 number holes representing the number of suicides in the UK construction industry in 2021; an average of two people die by suicide in construction each working day.

The finished garden will include a consultation glade (a therapeutic space for counselling), a reflective pool, a safe inner sanctuary space planted with pockets of wildflowers, external walls to reduce noise, and custom-made loungers to encourage the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (‘forest bathing’) – time spent immersed in nature to rejuvenate and restore oneself.

Jon said:

“This will be the biggest show garden at RHS Tatton Park this year, providing a green space to breathe and disconnect from negative thoughts. We hope to get people talking to reduce stigma and understand more about how green spaces can promote positive mental health.”

Motivated by the shocking statistics, the pair approached Leeds College of Building to support the project.Students from Leeds College of Building have agreed to bring hundreds of wooden hearts of assorted sizes (up to 10cm) which will be displayed on press day and represent each life taken. The hearts will be painted the colours of hard hats by the College’s Painting & Decorating students, and some will display poignant messages from bereaved families. 

Carolyn added:

“We have already benefitted from lots of generous industry partners that have given in-kind support such as machine hire, materials, and labour – like landscaping companies Ashlea Ltd and The Landscape Academy at Great Barrow. However, we are also dependent on monetary donations to help finish the garden and cover the costs to build and then relocate the project.

“After the show, the legacy garden will move to a new site which will benefit the local community and become a space for visitors to enjoy tranquillity and calm when they may need it most.”

In total, the garden will cost around £40,000 to produce. Carolyn and Jon are now asking companies to donate the last remaining £5,000 via a new GoFundMe page or make contact to sponsor individual garden elements. The project is also welcoming donated goods. Any monies left over from the build will be given to Band of Builders and Mates in Mind, charities dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing in construction across the UK.

“An estimated 700 workers in construction sadly took their own lives during 2022. This is well above the average of any other sector in the UK and up significantly from the previous year. Carolyn and I have therefore devoted our own time to raising awareness about this devastating topic.

Nikki Davis, Principal & CEO of Leeds College of Building, said:

“We’re delighted to work with Carolyn and Jon to get more people talking about mental health in construction. Leeds College of Building’s South Bank Campus is already a venue for Andy’s Man Club – the men’s suicide prevention charity – and projects like this incredible garden are vital for raising awareness in the general public and signposting support to those who may need it.” 

Carolyn and Jon have been designing award-winning gardens and landscapes for many years. Jon is a mental health first aider, and both are passionate about promoting mental health and the work of Band of Builders and Mates in Mind. To find out more or offer support, visit the Constructing Minds Show Garden website or Instagram page.

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