Mental Podcast Show

Darren Hawkes, garden designer and Samaritans helpline volunteer, has created a space full of empathy at the Chelsea Flower Show

Darren Hawkes knows exactly why he wanted to create a garden for Chelsea Flower Show that acknowledges life is full of fear and pain and loneliness: “When we are in despair, what’s common is, we all feel alone. We feel as if that despair is not a shared experience – it’s a personal one. And so, by putting the experience into three dimensions in a public space, there’s a chance it may remind someone that they are not alone. That there are other people who have experienced that.”

Hawkes, an award-winning garden designer, gives up his free time to quietly confront this fact on a regular basis. He has lost friends to suicide and is a listening volunteer for the helpline of the suicide prevention charity, Samaritans, to whom he has dedicated his show garden. “It’s not a real garden. I wouldn’t create this garden for a Samaritans centre. But if, as a show garden, it helps to communicate some of the lived experiences of people who reach out and call Samaritans, that starts a dialogue.”

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