Inspired by her son Callum, Denise decided to create a show garden at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tatton Flower Show in support of Crohn's & Colitis UK.
As well as winning gold medal at the show, the 77sq m garden, named 'Facing Fear: Finding Hope' went gone on to win the RHS People's Choice Award. The garden depicts the story of an individual’s emotional journey through illness and remission.
When I first had the crazy idea of creating this garden I never expected that we would end up winning gold at this prestigious event. It's taken two years and more than 40 partners working together to bring this garden to life and I it has far outreached my expectations.
At the age of 13, Denise’s son Callum was diagnosed with the Crohn's Disease, and in 2013 at the age of 23 he had a severe relapse of the condition which changed 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.
Winning this gold award is the icing on the cake, but the most important thing is that we raise awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis and represent what it is like with this illness, so that more people can get the support they need.
Denise was inspired by the bravery and resilience shown by her son, in the face of his disease, so she wanted to do something positive to help him and all those people who are affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
The garden takes you on a journey through fear, where confusion and loneliness are symbolised by 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.
Steps take the visitor down into hope represented by a bright area, which reflects the transition towards better health. Improved well-being and confidence are illustrated by the attractive, colourful planting and gently flowing water.
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. It was incredibly emotional when the garden received the gold award as it shows that the judges connected with the garden and understood that whilst Crohn’s disease is often viewed as an invisible illness, and a person might look ‘okay’ on the outside, they may be in a daily battle with a serious medical condition.