Children with Cancer UK is honoured to sponsor Children with Cancer UK’s Raines Repurposed at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024, designed by Thomas Clarke.

Our collaboration on Thomas Clarke’s balcony garden design aims to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Inspired by Raines Retreat, a retreat we are building for families affected by childhood cancer, the balcony garden is designed to offer a moment of reflection and allow a brief break for those facing the unimaginable.

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Tom Clarke colour

About the designer

Thomas Clarke is the designer of both the Children with Cancer UK Raines Retreat garden and the balcony garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Tom is one of the youngest garden designers at the show, he trained at The Inchbald School of Design specialising in Garden Design and went on to form his own garden design and landscaping company, Fred Studio.  In 2022, Tom received a Silver medal at RHS Tatton Park for his Young Designer garden Paradise Found.

Tom is currently working for us on Raines Retreat where he is designing and building the garden and recreational spaces for a rural retreat for children and their families affected by childhood cancer.

What is Raines Retreat?

When a family receives the devastating news that their child is diagnosed with childhood cancer everyone in that child’s life is forever changed.

Therefore, we are developing a beautiful holiday retreat for families who desperately need the break and the chance to make precious, happy memories.

Not only is our retreat a calming place to reflect, but it is fully self-sustainable, embracing local businesses and craftsmanship as well as support.

Children with Cancer UK’s Raines Repurposed Garden

Childrenw with Cacner UK Rains Repurposed

Children with Cancer UK has sponsored Tom to design this balcony garden which aims to raise awareness of childhood cancer whilst also being a calming space for people to reflect and relax. When first hearing a childhood cancer diagnosis, families are plunged into a world of hospitals far away from home, invasive treatments and ultimately, the unknown. By providing a safe space, these families will be immersed in nature on the balcony and provided with a moment to simply, breathe.

80% of the materials used in Tom’s balcony garden have been recycled from the retreat project. Old field fencing and a fallen tree which had to be cleared have been reused in a creative, modern way to give the space a contemporary edge. The use of recycled materials has ensured that the balcony is a sustainable and a peaceful place to be, that is suspended in time. The garden is designed to create a calming atmosphere with the hope that whoever uses it can be transported away from their pain and struggles, if only for a short time and that the garden can bring solace and some peace for a moment.

Tom says:

The show is such a prestigious event and it is a professional aspiration to exhibit. The exposure for any aspiring designer is immense and also provides a great platform to highlight the message of Children with Cancer UK.

A shaded seating area provides a place to relax and enjoy the scented flowers and gentle movement from the surrounding grasses. The clear lines and simple colour palatte create a calming, uncluttered and practical space for reflection. Soft evergreen planting, with muted tones of pinks and burgundy, lies beneath the statement multi-stem Taxus baccata.

Key Plants in the Raines Repurposed Garden

The colour scheme will be largely shades of green with flashes of white and palest pinks through to burgundy. The planting creates a space to unwind, gentle aroma from thyme and jasmine, soft rustling from grasses. Overall colour palate of greens and pale pinky purples gives a calming atmosphere for everyone who comes to visit.

Here is some information about the plants that have featured in Tom’s Balcony garden:

  • Taxus baccato – a medium-sized bushy evergreen with narrow, leathery, very dark green leaves arranged in two rows on the shoots, and insignificant flowers followed on female plants by fleshy red fruits
  • Pinus mugo – is a large, spreading bushy shrub or small tree with short, dark green needles and dark brown, ovoid cones.
  • Oenothera lindheimeri – a bushy perennial with slender erect stems bearing small lance-shapes leaves and staryy white or pink-tinged flowers in loose racements in summer and autumn
  • Thymus vulgaris – a bushy, dwarf, evergreen shrub up to 30cm tall and 40cm wide, with small, linear to ovate, aromatic, dark grey-green leaves, and terminal spikes of small, whorled, white or pink flowers in early summer. Thyme is a popular culinary herb, with various cultivars available. The flowers are favoured by bees and other pollinators
  • Brizia media – a tufted semi-evergreen grass with purplish tinted, blue-green leaves. Throughout summer, locket-shaped, green-purple flowers, which fade to buff, hang from wiry branches. Their flowers are excellent for drying

Tom’s tips to designing a balcony garden

  • Don’t be afraid of adding larger planters or planting to create scale
  • Give the space a clear and cohesive scheme
  • Use soft edges or curves to create space and fluidity in the design

Special Logo for Chelsea Flower Show

Oenothera lindheimeri ‘whirling butterflies’ is a key flower used. Its natural beauty and the playfulness of butterflies is a perfect match for a space aimed at children and young adults. It also inspired mum of cancer survivor and illustrator Emma van Klaveren to create a bespoke logo for the event.

Emma’s daughter, Florie was diagnosed with with Wilms’ tumour Stage 4 when she was two years old in March 2020. It is important throughout this project that families are at the forefront of our minds.

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