Facing Fear; Finding Hope: in support of Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Wednesday 19 July 2017

A Crohn’s Disease inspired garden called ‘Facing Fear: Finding Hope in support of Crohn’s and Colitis UK’ will be on display at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Flower Shower Tatton Park from 20-23 July 2017.

The idea for the Crohn’s and Colitis UK³ charity garden was conceived by Denise Shields in October 2015. The passionate amateur gardener has experienced, first-hand, the devastating effects of Crohn’s Disease. At the age of 13, Denise’s son Callum was diagnosed with the disease, and in 2013 at the age of 23 he had a severe relapse of the condition which nearly cost him his life, changing his life forever. It took Callum two years to fully enter remission, and during this time, the charity was able to provide support for him. Denise was inspired by the bravery and resilience shown by her son, in the face of his debilitating disease, so she wanted to do something positive to help him and all those people who are affected by these dreadful conditions.

The 77sq m garden has been designed by Rory Tompsett and Peter Hulland working with Denise Shields, to share the story of an individual’s emotional journey through illness and remission. The journey begins in Facing Fear, an uninviting place. The confusion, loneliness and turbulence an individual can suffer when their condition erupts are symbolised by the steel pergola, angular path and bubbling pool while the sensations of fear and pain are represented by the dark colour and texture of the planting. When exhaustion becomes overwhelming, the bespoke redwood chair provides a welcome place to retreat. Steps, drawing the visitor downward into Finding Hope represented by a bright sunken area, reflect the transition towards better health. This is a happy place, where improved well-being and confidence are illustrated by the attractive, colourful planting and gently flowing water, which raise the spirits. A formal hedge, denoting an inner boundary is a reminder that Crohn’s Disease has no known cure and those diagnosed have to learn to manage the disease. This ambiguity is emphasized by the specially commissioned stainless steel sculpture.

Denise said;

“I’m a passionate gardener, and had this bonkers idea that I’d like to build a garden and do it for charity. With my son Callum being so unwell, his bravery and resilience inspired me and I wanted to give something back. It has been a challenge to get the garden into production but I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of sponsors and people wanting to support the garden.

“Crohn’s disease is often viewed as an invisible illness, while a person might look ‘okay’ on the outside, they may be in a daily battle with a serious medical condition. I felt it was important to raise awareness of this debilitating condition and represent what it is like with such an unpredictable illness.”

Callum shields added;

“I am very happy to be the inspiration for the garden design, and proud of my mum’s determination to make the project a success.”