A brave little girl who lost her battle with cancer at age 11 was the inspiration behind the Children with Cancer UK Strength of Humanity Garden on display at the 2019 BBC Gardeners’ World Live show in Birmingham.
The garden, which received a Silver Award, was designed by award-winning gardener Ben Stubbs in close collaboration with Andrea and Julian Darke, of Derbyshire, who sadly lost their youngest daughter to ependymoma, a rare form of brain cancer in 2016, after her five-year battle with the disease.
Andrea is now studying horticulture part-time at Derby College and commented:
Megan continued to smile every day until her body wouldn’t allow her anymore. We hold on to that thought and take strength from knowing she coped, so we should too. Over the last few years, I have found solace in gardening, and welcome the preoccupation of learning something new.
This garden raises awareness of childhood cancer and Children with Cancer UK’s efforts to improve and save young lives. It also highlights the role gardening can have on our general wellbeing and healing process – it was a great opportunity to be involved in its creation.
The garden is set within a mostly dark, subdued woodland with trees, underplanting and sculptures to represent some of the emotions associated with experiences of childhood cancer. The inner area is more colourful and joyful with an ‘End of Treatment Bell’ sculpture at its centre which symbolises the happy moment when a child has finished their treatment and is ready to return to normal family life.
Megan’s friends, and others affected by childhood cancer, wrote messages of strength and hope which were woven into the bell sculpture. The garden also acknowledges other children who have sadly lost their lives to cancer with subtle features throughout.
Ben Stubbs, of Lush Gardens North East and winner of Best Border, BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Subscriber 2018, said:
The garden’s overall design, carefully chosen plants and meaningful features represent the fear, strength, love and vulnerability families experience during diagnosis and treatment.
The garden also highlights the strength of the human spirit, especially in children, which often shines through during intensely difficult times.
Every day, an average of 12 families in the UK receive the devastating news that their child has cancer. More than 4,500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK.
The aim of the Children with Cancer UK Strength of Humanity Garden is to raise awareness of the crucial role the charity plays in developing kinder, less toxic treatments for children to save young lives and improve the quality of survival in children and young people. The charity is dedicated to ensuring more and more children with cancer ring the end of treatment bell; keeping families together.
The garden is on show at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live from 13-16 June at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
Read Megan’s story: