Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden

All About Plants

The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden is a safe and peaceful sanctuary to sit within the beauty of nature, whilst sharing experiences of grief, or having a moment of quiet reflection.

Plants, carefully chosen for their sensory properties, are layered throughout the garden to connect people with the space. As the garden will be relocated in Bedford, the design has taken inspiration from the area’s history in lace production, using some of the organic shapes from the famous Midlands ‘Bud’ lace, to create the designs for the planting borders and the York stone paving in the garden.

At a glance:

Who is this garden for? 
Anyone who needs space to grieve, or who is impacted by a life-shortening condition.
Where is the garden set?  
Bedfordshire, England.
Who or what is the design inspiration?
Feedback from those who would benefit from a Grief Kind Garden, lace design and sensory planting.

The space will have the ability to accommodate the varying mobility needs of the Grief Kind Garden users. The sight lines of the garden, as seen from a bed or a chair, is considered in the design.

A range of sensory perennial plants and a number of unusual specimen trees have been selected to provide year-round interest. These include Heptacodium miconioides, which has deep green foliage and pretty clusters of scented flowers in late summer; Frangula alnus 'Aspleniifolia', with its delicate filigree lace foliage; and a multi-stemmed form of Tilia henryana, which has textural leaves and fragrant flowers.

Key sustainability points

  • Yorkshire limestone used for paving will be lifted and relaid at the hospice.
  • CemFree cement - Cemfree products cut carbon by up to 85% compared to traditional Portland cement.
  • Plants supplied by How Green Nursery in Kent. They are a friendly family-run nursery who grow all of their plants using peat-free compost.
  • The steel framework around the garden will be repurposed into raised beds after the show for use in the hospice garden.


The Grief Kind Garden from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will be relocated in its entirety to Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Bedford, to provide a lasting legacy as a dedicated space for grieving, benefiting the local community, hospice staff, patients and their families. The steel garden surround will be repurposed into raised beds for use in the hospice kitchen garden.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.