Chelsea veteran Chris Beardshaw is designing the Myeloma UK – A Life Worth Living Garden, sponsored by Project Giving Back, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023. It is one of 12 main show gardens this year, including gardens from Cleve West, Sarah Price and Darren Hawkes.

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Myeloma UK Garden Chelsea 2023 Chris Beardshaw
Chelsea Flower Show 2023: Myeloma UK - A Life Worth Living Garden. Designed by Chris Beardshaw. Sponsored by Myeloma UK and Project Giving Back. John Campbell

Designer Chris Beardshaw.

Sponsors Project Giving Back for Myeloma UK.

Contractor Egidos Ltd.

Plants Deepdale Trees, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Kelways Plants.

Theme Raising awareness of the rare blood cancer myeloma.

After the show This garden will be repurposed and rehomed to benefit a number of different sites. Many plants will be sold via a plant sale to raise funds for Myeloma UK.


Here's what Chris told us about his garden.

“My aim was to create a garden that was somewhat circuitous and allowed the eyes and feet to wander,” explains Chris. “I wanted it to be a garden of little cameos; a calming, enveloping, relaxing garden, aesthetically rewarding, and emotionally and spiritually reassuring, where it’s all about slow pace.”

The space he has created is split into two parts: a sunny border at the front and a curated woodland garden behind. “It goes from traditional, big, Jekyll-esque border plants, backed by a yew hedge, into a dappled-shade woodland,” says Chris, “so we’ve got a really odd mix of plants for sun, dappled shade and deep shade. It’s a garden for an individual to walk through; the path is only 90cm wide, so you’re going to have your ankles tickled by plants coming in left and right,” says Chris.

This narrow slip path, made from blocks of charred oak, winds through to two Neoclassical-style temples, constructed with a timber frame and wrapped in a sort of “external wallpaper, a fabric printed with an external scan so it looks as though it’s got the render of an Italian chapel.”

The first temple contains a bespoke gold-leafed sculpture with hand-cut leaves of the plants featured in the garden. The second is slightly grander and contains a wall painting of huge peonies in rich teals and purples and creams, and a bespoke light featuring leaves in porcelain and gold. There are also two water features in the garden including an octagonal reflective pool surrounded by ferns, hostas and irises; and nine trees, from a multi-stemmed Cercidipyhllum to hornbeam, acers and a ginkgo.

What to look out for

1 Sun and shade planting will feature in this garden of two parts, with a traditional border in front and woodland planting beyond.
2 Two temples in the Neoclassical style, cleverly constructed in lightweight materials.
3 Sculptures created from the leaves of the plants featured in the garden, in gold leaf and porcelain.
4 The journey along a winding charred oak path through the woodland, to represent the experience of myeloma, for which there are treatments, but no cure.
5 Nine trees – a lot for a show garden, but needed to create the secret woodland atmosphere.

Find out more about Chris Beardshaw's Chelsea garden on our Talking Gardens Chelsea podcast.

More on the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show:

Chelsea Flower Show 2023: tickets, information, dates and what's on

Chelsea Flower Show Main Show Gardens 2023: the full list

10 essentials for visiting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS / Luke MacGregor


Stephanie Mahon, Editor of Gardens Illustrated
Stephanie MahonEditor, Gardens Illustrated

Stephanie Mahon is Editor of Gardens Illustrated. She is a multi-award winning garden editor, writer and author. Her book Wild Gardens, which is the GMG Garden Book of the Year, is out now.