Resident Pam Duffel’s nursing career has been halted in its tracks following the completion of a garden design course and success at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Show.

images of flowers

The moment the e-mail popped onto my screen requesting last entries for Tatton Park RHS Flower Show 2019 I knew I was going on a journey of no return! My colleague Nick (a stone-waller by trade) was just as excited!

Brainstorming my vision of a garden depicting the journey through dementia over a pub lunch in early December 2018 was the next step.

The garden designed was to raise awareness of dementia in a thought-provoking manner. I had been working as a Nurse Practitioner with frail and elderly patients in the community and had witnessed, many times, the devastating effect of the disease on both the sufferer and their family, friends and carers.

The planting was to represent the fading of memory, starting with exuberant, colourful planting alongside a new dry-stone wall to reflecting the memories of youth. The first break in the wall represents the realisation of dementia. The journey continues, the planting now becomes less colourful and grassier as memories fade. The wall, reflecting the planting, diminishes in height and becomes more weathered. The planting changes again at the second break in the wall, this represents the disease progression. Planting becomes more muted in colour and sparser, more a woodland style, with a mulch of dried leaves, that represent past memories. The wall ends in a mossy well.

Our journey had started, and by February 2019 we knew our application had succeeded and we were allocated our plot!

A windy exposed area of field, hard to envision the end result!

Months of planning and sourcing materials ensued. Finding the plants that I wanted to use was the most challenging. I knew from the outset that I needed to find the Milk chocolate foxgloves (Digitalis parviflora ‘Milk Chocolate’) that would fit perfectly into the woodland section. But these were scarce, and I was let down by 2 local nurseries just days before setting off for the build at Tatton Park. Frantic days of searching and phoning nurseries across the UK ensued and I was very relieved to track down 3 plants at Morton’s Nursery, Nottinghamshire. Only 3, but I at least I didn’t have to totally abandon my vision! Amazingly after a 3-hour journey from Tatton Park across the Pennines to the nursery the week before the show to collect the plants, I discovered that owner Gill had found a dozen more that would be in flower in time for the show!

This was the typical helpful nature of the nurseries I visited and also what I encountered with other designers and RHS staff at the show. There really was a sense of community and joint effort.

JA Jones Nursery, Southport kindly loaned us the trees and some shrubs and with numerous nurseries surrounding Tatton Park I soon had all the plants I needed to create the garden of my vision.

Being awarded a silver gilt was absolutely amazing. But it was the comments from the public who loved the planting and many of whom clearly saw the message that I was trying to paint with plants that I enjoyed most of all.

Pam lives on Island View Avenue and would be delighted to meet up to chat about gardens and design. Contact details through her website 


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