Charity founder unveils RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden
Almost two decades after making his debut as an RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibitor Martin Anderson MBE is returning to mark the 40th anniversary of the charity he helped to found – with the help of a classic car to feature on the garden.
Martin was one of the handful of people who joined forces back in 1979 to launch the Motor Neurone Disease Association. And the garden at this year’s Show pays tribute to all those people he has met over the years with the brutal disease.
Working with Sue Hayward Garden Design Ltd, Martin applied for and was successful in securing one of five spaces in the Artisan area of the Show and they are now using it to demonstrate how the effects of MND spread to all areas of a person’s life.
The centrepiece of the garden is an iconic hand-built 1938, Morgan, three-wheeled car, now garaged indefinitely with the owner unable to drive any more. The idea for the inclusion of the unusual garden centrepiece came when Martin spotted a stripped-down classic Aston Martin DB5 in a barn in a village near his home in Newark-on-Trent a year and a half ago.
“That sowed the seed of an idea which has now been transformed into what I hope will be a really eye-catching space at the Chelsea Flower Show. We toyed with the idea of using an Aston Martin in the garden but when we realised they cost around a million pounds we changed our minds!”
The rest of the garden has been designed to give the illusion of a garden lovingly created by many years of hard work, and now being gradually reclaimed by nature. The untended lawn and borders reflect the limitations of a person with MND to maintain it – the mind and senses are still active but the body is in physical decline. But the owner is still able to enjoy the garden’s sensory elements as it becomes a haven for wildlife.
“I visited the Chelsea Flower Show in 2007 and decided to have a go the following year to use it to raise awareness. That was a Shetland Croft Garden and won me the first of my two gold medals, and the People’s Choice Award. I have been behind a garden every few years since then, the last being in 2015. I thought the 40th anniversary was a good time to do another.”
The unveiling of the MND Association garden at the Show marks 40 years of Martin’s commitment to the Association.
“One dark night in December, my neighbour Roger Carus knocked on my door and told me he had been diagnosed with MND. He lived opposite me and often helped me to change the oil in my car. He said that before he died he wanted to form a charity and asked me if I would help as I was an accountant. I agreed to help – that knock on the door changed my life completely.”
Martin has remained involved with the MND Association since that day and will be on hand throughout the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to talk to visitors about the garden and share his inspiration.
“The whole process of getting here is very stressful and it takes hours and hours of work but when people with MND come and see you and say they like this garden or ‘my husband would have liked this garden’, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Long standing MND Association support Lucy Hawking, daughter of the charity’s late patron Prof Stephen Hawking is set to visit the garden along with Association patrons Charlotte Hawkins and Chris Broad, who both lost family members to MND.
Find out more about the garden on the RHS Chelsea website.