Chelsea 18: Naomi Ferrett-Cohen’s Cherub Garden
‘A Life without Walls’ Garden is designed to raise awareness of HIV
Pre-Registered SGD Member Naomi Ferrett-Cohen’s debut garden at Chelsea is designed to raise awareness of HIV, the issues surrounding young people living with HIV, and how CHERUB (Collaborative HIV Eradication of Reservoirs UK BRC) is working to find a cure. While the designer has never created her own show garden, she has helped with planting on two gardens at RHS Hampton Court, both designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin FSGD and Dan Bowyer MSGD, which, she says, gave her some valuable insight into the process.
CHERUB, which is a consortium of doctors, researchers and people living with HIV, asked her to come up with a garden for Chelsea that would highlight its aim to reduce the stigma associated with HIV, so that people can live openly with the condition. She went to visit young people living with HIV and asked them about the challenges they face. “I came away feeling really moved about how a lot of them are fearful to tell their friends, while dealing with a condition that they have to manage through daily medication. My design is based on how I would feel if I was them; I tried to put myself in their shoes.”
The garden represents a young person’s journey with HIV, starting from a white pod that represents the clinics the young people attend, which offers a cocoon of safety from the outside world. A path leading from the pod is interrupted by broken walls that are difficult to pass, showing their ongoing struggles. The path then reaches an open seating area, which symbolises a life of freedom.
The planting follows a similar journey, based on colour rather than a specific style. “Foliage plants with hints of white surround the pod, while more colourful plants, including Calanthe orchids, fringe the patio area. The structural plants I am planning to include are Dicksonia antarctica, Drimys winteri, and the beautiful Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris ‘Watereri’.”