We were delighted to officially open our prize-winning Natural Affinity Garden for Aspens in its permanent home at our Pembury site last week.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the garden first being presented to the public at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, we held a series of celebratory events for our community and supporters.

The Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Hugh Patterson, joined the our supporters, including representatives from Cripps, Fairdeal Windows, Redfields Landscaping, SMB Trust, Pembury Parish Council, Purpose Homes, Stephen Langer Associates, the TN Card and Metcalf Moat as the garden was officially opened with words from CEO Robert Shanahan and the garden’s designer Camellia Taylor. As well as enjoying the garden in full bloom, attendees also viewed an exhibition of art, pottery and woodwork created by the people we support.

The activities continued through the week with planting workshops held by Aspens’ horticultural team for the people we support and the succulents they planted took pride of place in The Natural Affinity Garden.

Our staff, volunteers, people supported by the charity and their families visited the garden for a special Open Day, with all commenting on what a beautiful and tranquil space it was.

The Natural Affinity Garden, created by Lamberhurst-based garden designer Camellia Taylor, was exhibited at RHS Chelsea Flower last year, where it picked up a Silver-Gilt medal and attracted hundreds of visitors.

Project Giving Back sponsored the garden, which included it being relocated in its entirety in the heart of the residential area of our site in Pembury, Kent. Tunbridge-Wells based law firm Cripps provided corporate support and continues to support the charity’s Natural Affinity Community Project which includes the development of a forest school at Aspens’ beautiful Pembury site.

The Natural Affinity Garden is a sensory garden that provides a therapeutic environment, designed to connect to the natural affinity we have towards nature. Every aspect of Camellia Taylor’s design targets specific senses and its curved nature reflects the plant roots spreading through the garden from the nucleus seating area. Each planting zone of the design targets a specific sense and every aspect of the planting has been included for sensory stimulation. 

Robert Shanahan, CEO, said: “We are delighted to celebrate this exciting milestone in our journey with the official opening of The Natural Affinity Garden for Aspens. One year ago, the garden made its debut at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where it won a Silver-Gilt medal and the hearts of its many visitors with its message of the therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature. It is now standing in its forever home at the heart of our residential area in Pembury where it will provide a permanent sanctuary for our community. 

We extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone who contributed to bringing this vision to life, especially the garden's designer Camellia Taylor, Project Giving Back who sponsored the garden, The Outdoor Room who built the garden at Chelsea and then recreated it for us at Aspens and Cripps who provided corporate support.”

We're seeking volunteers to help with the upkeep of the garden, if you can help please contact [email protected]

We'll be sharing information on how the wider community can visit and get involved with the prize-winning garden, please contact [email protected] to find out more.

Find out more about our Chelsea journey here.