Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden

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Muscular Dystrophy UK - Forest Bathing Garden is a much needed place of solace and reflection for those affected by a muscle wasting condition. It seeks to showcase how an immersive, yet accessible garden can offer a place of refuge to patients, their families, and clinicians at the time of diagnosis and beyond.

The design of the garden is inspired by the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which means bathing in the forest atmosphere and reconnecting with nature through our senses. The garden seeks to awaken imagination and innate connection to nature by bridging a gap between us and the natural world.

At a glance:

Who is this garden for? 
A public garden with a focus on the Muscular Dystrophy UK community including clinicians, researchers, patients and their families.
Where is the garden set?  
Who or what is the design inspiration?
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing

A large random knapped flint wall has been chosen for its beautiful texture and form – reminiscent of muscle cells – which serves as a tool for explaining what Muscular Dystrophy is, and the devastating effect it can have on one’s muscles.

The planting is inspired by a birch grove, with more than 40 trees enveloping the garden and creating a forest-like atmosphere. The birch trees are under-planted with woodland edge style plants, varying from deep shade corners to more open, sunnier woodland glades. The majority of the plants have been selected for their foliage, creating a green tapestry, rich in texture, with an occasional burst of colour.

At the core of the garden is a central hub with sculptural flint walls, that provides a sheltered space for people to meet and share their experiences outside the clinical environment, mirroring the emotional and practical support that Muscular Dystrophy UK gives its community at a time of need.

Key sustainability points:

  • Using reclaimed materials – slate, creasing tiles, clay pavers
  • Foundations for the walls are formed using reusable precast concrete footings. These have been used at Chelsea since 2017 and will be re-used in future show gardens. The use of these reusable foundations eliminate the need for virgin concrete foundations
  • The bungaroosh wall will be built using modular steelwork sections pre-filled with the reclaimed bungaroosh materials
  • More than 75% of the overall garden area consists of planted areas. There is a planted/soft edge water rill running through the middle of the garden to capture and slow down the flow of any run-off water


The garden will be going to a location that benefits the muscle wasting and weakening community. Keep up to date with its relocation journey on the Muscular Dystrophy UK website.

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