We are delighted and hugely excited to announce that Aspens has been selected to partner with garden designer Camellia Taylor to create a show garden for the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, supported by Project Giving Back.

The Natural Affinity Garden, which will exhibit in the All About Plants category at the Show, will encourage a connection with nature and maximise the benefits to a visitor’s wellbeing by engaging with the seven senses (touch, taste, scent, sight, sound, movement and temperature).

Each planting zone of the design targets specific senses and every aspect of the planting has been included for sensory stimulation. The dominant use of green in the garden provides an overall feeling of calm for those with hyper-sensitivity (sensory avoidant) and subtle additions of purple and yellow provide stimulation and interaction for those with hypo-sensitivity (sensory seeking).

After the show, the garden will be relocated to the heart of our Kent site, where it will provide a rich, therapeutic haven for our community.

The Natural Affinity Garden designer Camellia Taylor, who runs a garden and landscaping business The Garden Taylor, has a background in psychology and health care and has worked on previous projects with Aspens. She has a strong connection with our core values of empowerment, inclusivity and integrity and is passionate about supporting our vision for an inclusive society where people with disabilities can thrive.

Camellia Taylor said: In my previous career I worked with domestic violence and young people with complex needs. I have always felt passionate about the benefits of nature on the human condition.

My inspiration for The Natural Affinity Garden evolved from this and my interest in the similarities between the mathematical growth of neurons and the development of plants, linking nature with human uniqueness, which is core to Aspens’ values.

Every aspect of the Natural Affinity Garden design targets specific senses and can be engaged with in multiple ways independently. The curved nature of the design reflects the neurons/plants roots spreading through the garden from the nucleus seating area. 

I would like visitors to take away the importance of nature to well-being, and by engaging with their senses, visitors can maximise the benefits of any outdoor space.”

Aspens’ Chief Executive Robert Shanahan said: “We are delighted that Camellia Taylor and Project Giving Back are making it possible for Aspens to be involved in this inspiring and exciting project.

Central to all we do is striving for an inclusive society where people on the autism spectrum and with learning disabilities are empowered to thrive. This project will give the people we support the opportunity to be part of a prestigious global event and when relocated to our site the upkeep of the garden will empower them with a sense of ownership and inclusion.

The Natural Affinity Garden will serve as an important reminder of the healing power of connecting with nature and will be an invaluable asset to our community, where it will provide a haven for the people we support and their families, staff, volunteers and the wider community for many years to come.”

Sustainability is at the heart of the garden design, with all plants and hard-landscaping being locally sourced, and the majority of the planting being supplied by a peat-free nursery and the remaining ones from an off-grid nursery.

The Natural Affinity Garden for Aspens is being sponsored by Project Giving Back, a philanthropic organisation that supports good causes to create RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens that are designed to leave a lasting legacy for the charities they are inspired by.

Read all about our Chelsea Flower Show journey here.