Welcome to Made in Sheffield – our film series that goes behind the scenes to look at the planning and creative process behind the making of Horatio’s Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023.

Horatio’s Garden Chelsea is a garden with two lives. It starts its life at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and then goes on to form the heart of a new, legacy garden for spinal injury patients at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield where it will transform a car park and become the eighth Horatio’s Garden in the UK.

Our garden design distills the key features found in all Horatio’s Gardens that patients told us they most value when using the garden. We spent months meeting and listening to patients and NHS staff to find out the elements we should include when designing the garden, including smooth, environmentally-friendly paths, natural, tactile materials, water and an all-season garden room.

Created by Lydia and Bert Noble, master stone wallers and the brother and sister team behind Noble Stonework in Yorkshire, three stone cairns are featured in the garden. The cairns provide rhythm and structure in the garden but also connect to the experiences of patients coming to terms with traumatic injuries. They are symbols of wayfinding and the gentle guidance and collective support of all those who have gone before. 

Inspired by visits to Kelham Island Museum where we learnt about Sheffield’s steel industry, cutlery making tradition and the ‘Little Mesters’ network of craftsmen based in the Rivelin Valley, our water feature is designed to be tactile and interactive for patients as well as encouraging wildlife. It features historic cutlery casts to form a multi-height arrangement for gently brimming water linking it to its final legacy home in Sheffield.

Over 1000 thumbprints have been collected from patients and NHS staff in all six of the Horatio’s Gardens across the country, including the charity’s patron HRH Princess Eugenie and actor and charity ambassador George Robinson as well as charity staff, head gardeners and volunteers.  We have also collected thumbprints from all those responsible for bringing the garden to Chelsea – from contractors to specialist makers to those who have grown the plants.  The thumbprints will be on display as a living artwork within the garden room at Chelsea Flower Show and then later in Sheffield.

Spinal injuries affect the regulation of body temperature and sensitivity to UV rays. Trees are vital for creating cooling, dappled shade for patients.  Patients are often looking up from a bed for weeks or months, so views up into the canopy are very important. Our selection of trees was inspired by the legacy home of the garden in Sheffield. River Birches connect to birch branches used to burn off impurities in the industrial steel-making process and field maples, found in the wooded valley sides of Sheffield, influenced our choice of Acer Buergerianum.

Made from tactile, natural materials, the garden room has been designed by architects Mcmullan Studio. Working in close dialogue with Harris Bugg Studio it is a nest-like space offering patients privacy and calm away from the busy ward and a place to enjoy the garden in all-seasons.  Meticulously planned and tested so beds can move easily within, windows have been positioned to frame different views of the garden and a spacious rooflight connects patients in beds to the tree canopy and skyscape. 

Revealed at Chelsea for the first time, we have developed a new surface material that is patient-friendly, environmentally responsible and aesthetically beautiful. Using revolutionary green materials, our eco-terrazzo is made from cem-free, ultra low-carbon concrete, unusable crushed waste and contains no high-carbon steel. It is permeable so water can drain off safely and is joint-free with no bumps or dips to cause wheelchair users pain when moving across it.