One garden to look forward to at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower show is Sue Hayward’s ‘The High Maintenance Garden for the MND Association’ which is tipped to win a coveted Gold Medal in the Artisan Garden category. The garden’s designer Sue Hayward says, “This is my third RHS Chelsea Garden for the MND Association and I volunteered to create this special place in what is the 40th anniversary year of the charity. The garden design was based on an idea by Martin Anderson MBE, the founder member of the Motor Neurone Association, the garden’s sponsor My design shows a once much tended garden returning to nature, as the proud owner for many years is now unable to spend time working in it because of the impact of Motor Neurone Disease. The garden shows how a physically debilitating condition can put a halt to hobbies that we enjoy and take for granted, such as gardening, but also highlights the beauty of an unmaintained garden as nature and wildlife take over.”
Highlights in the garden include a beautiful, red vintage car (a 1935 Morgan Super Sports) sitting in a garage that is slowly being reclaimed by nature, with red rambling roses, grasses and orange geums gradually taking over the space. The iconic handbuilt British sports-car is of equal passion to the garden owner – the result of a lifetime of planning for an enjoyable and active retirement. The untended garden reflects the limitations of a person with motor neurone disease to maintain it: the mind and senses are still active but the body is in physical decline. The owner can still enjoy the garden’s sensory elements, its relaxed beauty and atmosphere while unchecked it becomes a haven for wildlife.
Sue Hayward continues, “This is a section of a larger garden, imagined as a separate tinkering and pottering refuge away from the main house and at the end of a driveway. The materials I have used show how the garden owner has accumulated materials and creatively turned them into hand built structures including the workshop and water feature using artisan skills learnt from an active working life. The beautiful car is a long term restoration project and driving it part of plans for an active retirement now sadly curtailed by MND.”
A seasoned Flower Show exhibitor, Sue Hayward’s gardens have been admired by thousands of visitors and won many prizes. In 2018 she won a Gold Award for “Beautiful Border” by BBC Gardeners World Live. In 2010 she designed the “Stephen Hawking Garden” for MND at RHS Chelsea and in 2008 her garden won a Gold Medal at RHS Chelsea.