The rise & fall of Ebola | Reflections on our World Vision garden

By John Warland, Garden Designer

Award-winning garden designer John Warland created the World Vision garden that recently won a silver-gilt award at this years’ Chelsea Flower Show. A long-term child sponsor of Ronald in Bolivia, this year John wanted to create a garden that reflected the positive impact of World Vision's work. Ahead of Hampton Court RHS Show this summer, he explains the concepts that bring the garden together…

After the hard work and success of Chelsea this year, we’ve expanded the garden and relocated to the world’s largest flower show at RHS Hampton Court.

The extra space at Hampton Court allows the garden to breathe a little more, and most importantly, will allow the public to walk through the space.

The aim is that people can enter the meadow of daisies and walk underneath the ribbons of life. They can engage with the garden and become part of the story, weaving their own narrative.

The garden resembles the rise and fall of young peoples’ lives and the threat of Ebola in Sierra Leone, this time surrounded by over 1000 ox-eye daisies. The daisies remind us of the naïve beauty and carefree days of our childhood - days spent making daisy chains and exploring the wilderness. Remembering these simple carefree pleasures remind us how many children do not grow up in such circumstances.

The meadow serves as a reminder of how World Vision works to allow children to grow up free from fear in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Children like nine-year-old Maria, who lost her family to Ebola. She now lives with her uncle but struggles to deal with the loss of her loved ones. With World Vision's support, she now receives frequent visits from Mary – a health volunteer, who makes sure she is happy, healthy and focused at school.

Although daisies are delicate flowers on their own, they can be woven into chains and through this community, strength can be achieved. Although the daisies used in our garden at Hampton Court offer some mid-summer beauty, these are the very same plants that survive alongside motorways and road verges across the country.

Three ornamental pear trees pierce the ribbons of steel and provide shade for the meadow, reminding us how child sponsors can help support and nourish a child’s life.

Mature hornbeam hedges also offer shelter and surround the whole garden, again a metaphor for the protection World Vision offers. In effect the hedge is giving the garden a large hug, protecting the daisy meadow from wind, sun and rain at the showground.

Beneath each ribbon is broken rubble, meant to remind the viewer of the turbulence in everyone’s lives. The same material is used for the pathway through the garden, as if through the support of people walking into the field of hope, the rubble has been crushed, smoothed and made useful once more. The path invites people to enter the meadow of ribbons, help smooth the often-turbulent life journey and weave their own impact on young lives like Maria’s, all over the world.

Child sponsorship not only transforms one child's life, but also has a profound effect on the lives of others: their family, friends, neighbours and even their sponsor. The kindness of Maria's sponsor is raising her back up to a place of hope. Could you do the same? Find out more about sponsorship and our gardens at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show »