McCarthy & Stone Garden Triumphs at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
09 July 2013
The UK’s leading retirement developer, McCarthy & Stone, is celebrating after its spectacular show garden, aimed at challenging the pre-conceptions of later life, earned a coveted gold medal at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
The striking conceptual installation, created by multi award-winning garden designer, Chris Beardshaw, was rewarded for its innovation in capturing the positivity behind the ageing process by honouring the experience and knowledge offered by the UK’s growing over 60’s population.
The garden featured several unique elements intended to engage with those exploring it, including a giant steel-framed androgynous head in a hidden vista which offered visitors a secluded location to sit and listen to a series of specially recorded audio stories from people in their later years sharing their wisdom, hopes and ambitions for the future.
Chris Beardshaw explained: “The audio within the design was a key element in the concept for the garden as I wanted people to be able to engage with the garden in a way that is rarely possible - this was after all no ordinary garden, as the essential ingredients were provided by those celebrating their later life.
”I am delighted that the show judges recognised the significance of the messages we were trying to convey within the McCarthy & Stone Garden. To have achieved a gold medal is a real testament to the individuality and spirit of every retiree and over-60 that we had the pleasure to work with.”
The recordings themselves included the memories of former British Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters, and Madeline McGill, a retired midwife and one of the first women in the UK to take the contraceptive pill, as well as inspiring accounts from McCarthy & Stone residents.
Former guitarist with The Stranglers, John Ellis, 61, also left his mark on the garden both by having recorded his own personal memory and by writing a brand new acoustic song which was inspired by those left by the other participants.
Samantha Turner, from McCarthy & Stone commented: “This garden was very much a team effort so we would very much like to extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making it such a success.
“From Chris’ commitment to stimulating discussion around the perceived boundaries faced by older generations, through John’s lyrical interpretation of the beauty, experience and grace that can blossom in later life, to the many people who contributed their memories, thoughts and ideas to our audio bank, the results have been truly extraordinary. We really believe that following this event, many more people will perhaps think about the ageing process in a different light, and start embracing the idea of a enjoying a greater life in later life.
Built around a circular structure, the McCarthy & Stone Garden featured an outer hedge, wildflower meadow and a number woodland tree species to represent the barrier between the generations, and to convey the idea that older people tend to be lumped together, treated identically, rather than as multi-faceted complex individuals. An outer meadow at the front of the garden reflected the idea of loneliness and isolation which many older people experience.
Through three pathways, each designed to symbolise a different area of life; the personal experiences of elders, the technological advances they have witnessed, plus the fashions and trends they have lived through and embraced, were explored. These three pathways signified the unique ways in which the brain processes memory, but also how it then utilises those memories in day-to-day life.
For further information about McCarthy & Stone please visit www.mccarthyandstone.co.uk or call 0800 2014282. Alternatively, for updates from the show follow McCarthy & Stone on Facebook @MccarthyStone and on Twitter #RHSHampton.