Shoreham designer makes debut at RHS Chelsea

Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created a unique garden for RHS Chelsea 2018 to help break down the stigma of HIV infection for young people
Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has created a unique garden for RHS Chelsea 2018 to help break down the stigma of HIV infection for young people

Shoreham garden designer Naomi Ferrett-Cohen has landed her debut charity garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Working with CHERUB, Naomi has created a unique garden, called A Life Without Walls, to help break down the stigma of HIV infection for young people.

Life Without Walls Garden acts a metaphor for the journey a young person living with HIV faces today

Life Without Walls Garden acts a metaphor for the journey a young person living with HIV faces today

The garden, on show at RHS Chelsea 2018 in May, will challenge stigmas and promote the message that it is possible to live well with HIV, as well as highlighting the search for a cure through dedicated scientific research.

Naomi said: “With my passion for gardening and my background in the care sector, I jumped at the chance to design this very special garden.

“I strongly believe in the power of gardens to improve people’s health and mindset, and hope my debut garden at Chelsea will help to promote this incredibly important cause.”

Naomi has been a keen gardener from a young age, much influenced by her landscaper father.

She worked in the care sector, helping people with mental health problems and learning disabilities, and firmly believes in the importance of horticulture for wellbeing.

The CHERUB collaboration, affiliated with Oxford University, identified RHS Chelsea as a great opportunity to raise public awareness around HIV, a disease which affects 37million people globally.

Though HIV is now treatable, it remains a complex condition in childhood and particularly adolescence.

The aim of the garden is to raise awareness about young people living with HIV in the UK and beyond, so Naomi has designed the garden with this age group in mind. She gained advice and inspiration by working in conjunction with young people’s HIV charity CHIVA.

The garden uses specialist planting and design to take visitors on a powerful symbolic journey, helping to promote acceptance and understanding about the condition.

Professor John Frater, from CHERUB, said: “This project was inspired after visits to Chelsea and our understanding of the strong connections between gardens, health and well-being.

“We know Naomi will deliver a garden that not only works as a symbol for breaking down HIV barriers but also creates a beautiful, motivational space to visit.”

The timing of the garden coincides with the RIVER trial, the first formal, randomised trial exploring a possible cure for HIV infection, the results of which will be released this spring.

A Life Without Walls Garden acts a metaphor for the journey a young person living with HIV faces today.

The white pod at the top of the garden represents a clinic and a cocoon of safety from the outside world. Around it the planting is regimented and minimal.

The path from the pod through the garden represents a move to a life of more freedom, as well as the obstacles encountered.

The open seating area towards the front of the garden is a symbol of a society without prejudice. Here the planting is warmer, brighter and less formal in structure.

Funds for the garden have been raised through donations from sponsors.