The Morgan Stanley Garden for GOSH will symbolize the special bond between children, parents and clinicians, says Chris Beardshaw.
I have developed the design for the Morgan Stanley garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital through a series of in depth discussions, site visits and analysis, allowing me to understand what is needed and would be of most value. What was made immediately clear was the intensity of many of the wards and the lack of space for parents who may need a quiet moment away from the hustle and bustle of the working hospital or perhaps need to have private discussions with the clinicians caring for their children. This brief, coupled with the nature of the garden site, allowed us to explore the creation of a quiet, contemplative garden in contrast with the buildings and daily workings of the hospital.
The location is unusual in that whilst it is a roof garden it is actually surrounded by much higher buildings on all four sides and as such very little direct sunlight actually reaches the floor. This opens up the opportunity to work with a range of plant material suited for shadier conditions which will thrive in the sheltered and protected atmosphere of the central London location. It was important to me to make this space as green and plant rich as possible to offer a completely different experience whether you visit and sit in the garden or look out at it from one of the many windows as you walk through the hospital - and so the creation of a woodland garden with mature tree canopy and verdant woodland understory began to emerge.
The site is very contained; not much larger than the plot we will have to initially showcase the garden at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. What will appear at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be the main heart of the garden; the oak Azumaya buildings offering shelter and vantage points in which to view the garden, the still canal reflecting the canopy of the trees and the sky, together with the tapestry of trees, topiary, hedging and herbaceous plants. At the hospital entrance paths and terracing for further seating opportunities will be added.
A strong element of the design is the reflection of the relationships I witnessed at the hospital – those of the children, the parents and the clinicians and this triptych has informed many of the components within the garden. From the oak Azumaya buildings (there are three sections), to the number of species of Cornus (trees), and even the number of stems a particular multi specimen tree carries. In addition to this there are a number of occasions where a complete circle appears in the garden including the main circle that deliberately punctuates the still canal. I have chosen this to be symbolic of children and the capacity to be complete and to shine whatever the circumstances and situation. I have repeated the symbol throughout the garden including the use of topiary domes and spheres.
I have also included sculptural artworks within the garden one of which is specially commissioned for the project and will be making its debut at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Work continues apace on the production of the materials and features as the construction phase at RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be upon us in just under three months and there are many elements which we need to be continually monitoring and checking including the plants which will begin stirring into life very soon!
Read more about Morgan Stanley's Chelsea Flower Show garden.