Weaving world’s first knitted garden for RHS Malvern Spring Festival

RHS Malvern Spring Festival - Work of Heart Garden - Clare Young.png
8th January 2018

A Gloucestershire widow is creating a full size knitted show garden installation at RHS Malvern Spring Festival in memory of her husband to help raise £50,000 for the hospice charity which helped care for him and to aid in her battle with anxiety and depression since his death.

Clare Young, 50, from Gloucester, supported by a team of friends, crafters and community groups has started work on the full-size show garden installation for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival called the ‘Work of Heart’ garden.

Clare said: “My husband Ken died at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in August 2015 at the age of 47. After Ken died, I found life very difficult. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and my clinical psychologist suggested knitting as a way to help my symptoms.

"I’ve always tried to turn all negatives into positives since Ken died, so I picked up my knitting needles. I started by creating knitted Christmas decorations and Easter Bunnies which raised £1,300 for the hospice where Ken was looked after. This was followed by installing a yarn bombed message of thanks in the hospice grounds in the May 2017 with the help of a group of friends and knitters. This led to an invitation for us to do something really special at RHS Malvern Spring Festival."

The invitation was from Clare’s friend Suzy Hillier, Head of Commercial at Three Counties Showground, which is home to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, when Clare and Suzy came up with the idea of knitting a garden for RHS Malvern at Clare’s 50th birthday party. Clare also wanted to find a special way to mark what would’ve been Ken’s 50th birthday in 2018 and soon the £50,000 fundraising target to thank Sue Ryder and pay tribute to the poignant occasion became her focus.

The incredible installation measuring 4m by 4m will include a hospice bedroom overgrown with knitted plants known for their healing properties. It will feature lavender, used by complementary therapists in reflexology treatment for patients at the hospice, and rosemary as ‘rosemary for remembrance’ was a saying Lady Ryder, the founder of the Sue Ryder charity, used often.

Clare added: “As part of the installation we want to include 10,000 ‘works of heart’ – small hand knitted or crocheted hearts - created by local knitters, community groups and celebrities. These will be made available for visitors to place on trees around the ‘Work of Heart’ garden in return for a donation to the hospice charity, making it a living and growing display over the course of the festival.

“We need as many people as possible to pick up their knitting and crochet needles to help us create these 10,000 hearts. That’s why we are asking people to create a ‘Work of Heart’ for our garden.”

With the winter months traditionally seeing a spike in searches for knitting online, Clare and The Knits, a core team of knitters affectionately known as The Knits, thought it is the perfect time to launch a campaign asking people to create a ‘A Work of Heart’ for the knitted garden.

From January, they will be teaming up with knitting groups, community groups and knitting shops to run a series of ‘Work of Heart’ workshops encouraging knitters and crafters to create a ‘work of heart’ for the hospice charity show garden. For details of the workshops visit workofheartgarden.org from 8th January 2018. 

Anyone wanting to contribute to the garden can also visit the website to find details of a pattern to create their own ‘Work of Heart’ and details of where to send it.

Elise Hoadley is Hospice Director at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice. She said: “Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice is a place of peace and tranquillity where people living with conditions like cancer, heart disease, lung failure and neurological conditions can come to receive expert specialist care so they can live the fullest lives possible for as long as possible. I know Clare’s creation will capture and share this peace and tranquillity with the aim of generating interest, inspiration and positivity about hospice care. We’d like to encourage as many people as possible to support Clare’s campaign to create 10,000 hearts for the knitted garden, and to come along and see the knitted garden itself at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May.”

Suzy Hillier said: “RHS Malvern exemplifies excellence in gardening and values the role horticulture plays in our health and wellbeing. The saying goes “A beautiful garden is a work of heart’ and this created a compelling synergy for the ‘Work of Heart’ garden to be featured at the Festival. With Gloucestershire - the home of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice - being one of the three counties along with Worcestershire and Herefordshire, we’re delighted to able to showcase this unique installation. We expect more than 100,000 people to attend the festival between May 10th and 13th, giving them the opportunity to see this once in a lifetime creation.” 

To get behind Clare’s fundraising effort and make a donation please visit justgiving.com/fundraising/workofheartgarden

For more information on the Work of Heart Garden in support of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice visit workofheartgarden.org like facebook.com/WorkofHeartGarden on Facebook or follow @WorkofHeartKnit on Twitter or 'workofheartgarden' on Instagram.

For more information about RHS Malvern Spring Festival please visit www.rhsmalvern.co.uk