The Constructing Minds garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park this summer will raise awareness of mental health in the construction industry
Figures show 700 construction workers took their own lives during 2022 – well above the average of any other sector in the UK and up from 507 in the previous year.
To help raise awareness, garden designers Carolyn Harden and Jon Jarvis have spoken with health professionals about how gardens can help patients heal, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
Harden and Jarvis have secured the largest show garden at RHS Tatton, which will take place on 19-23 July. The 20m by 14m space at Tatton Park is being transformed by a profusion of trees, ferns, bamboos and wildflower areas to create an overall sense of enclosure and refuge.
Materials found on construction sites such as concrete and scaffold boards will be included in the build.
Crossing the threshold via a rusted steel portico flanked by hawthorn hedges, visitors will step onto a gravel pathway. Tucked away to the left, the Consultation Glade provides a private, therapeutic space for one-to-one counselling with a mental health first aider.
The path continues towards the Inner Sanctuary, planted with pockets of wildflowers. The external walls reduce external noise but have viewing windows to retain the connection with nature. The wall to the left of the entrance incorporates a metal panel perforated with 507 number holes representing the number of suicides in 2021.
Exit from the Inner Sanctuary brings visitors to a wildflower meadow planted around light-canopied silver birches. Here custom-made loungers encourage the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing), based on the belief that time spent immersed in nature can bring rejuvenating and restorative benefits.
Students from Leeds College of Building will bring 700 painted hearts to the show on press day. Some of these hearts will contain messages from the families of those who have taken their own lives.
The public will be able to walk through the garden on show days, and after the show the garden will be moved to Clatterbridge Hospital (on the Wirral) where it will be a place of tranquillity for patients, visitors and staff. The garden is fully accessible by wheelchair, and there are plenty of seating options.
In total, the garden will cost approximately £40,000. Harden and Jarvis have welcomed support from companies within the industry, particularly sponsorship of individual elements of the garden and donation of goods. They are also depending on volunteers to help build the garden.
To donate to the project, visit the Constructing Minds GoFundMe page.