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Award-winning designer seeks gold medal hat-trick

Award-winning garden designer Tom Simpson has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to create a stunning garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, highlighting the importance of gifts in wills to progress and breakthroughs in cancer research.


Tom’s designs have already earned him the title of two-time RHS Gold Medal winner – first in 2018 and again in 2019 when his Cancer Research UK ‘Pledge Pathway to Progress’ garden design also won the People’s Choice Award and Best Construction. This year Tom hopes to win his third consecutive gold medal with his ‘Legacy Garden’ design for the charity.


The Cancer Research UK Legacy Garden at Hampton Court is the first of four gardens the charity will be exhibiting at RHS events across 2021 and 2022. Each designer has been given an identical brief, to create an immersive, contemplative space that symbolises how leaving a gift in a will to Cancer Research UK ensures research can continue to save lives for generations to come.


Tom’s Hampton Court space has been designed in the form of two interlinked circles to create an infinity symbol. A serpentine water feature flows through the garden, the source and end of which are both obscured from view. Both features represent the continuity and everlasting progress of cancer research, with each new breakthrough inspiring the next.


At the heart of the garden, where the two halves of the infinity symbol intersect, lies a curved boardwalk engraved with a personal message from a supporter who has pledged a gift in their will to Cancer Research UK. Nestled within the planting, providing a peaceful place to relax and watch the water, there is a sunken paved terrace where visitors can enjoy a quiet moment of reflection.


Tom uses a rich tapestry of bold drifts of flowering plants and a strong matrix of grasses in his planting scheme, creating a colourful and textural sensory experience as visitors move through the garden. The core colors are the purples and pinks associated with the Cancer Research UK logo, including Salvia ‘Amethyst’ and Veronicastrum f.roseum ‘Pink Glow’. These will be accented with zesty lime greens and pops of yellow.


Garden designer Tom Simpson said: “It’s such an honour to be selected once again to work with Cancer Research UK and be one of a handful of designers tasked with bringing to life this incredibly important message at RHS shows over the next two years.


“One in two of us will get cancer, but all of us can support the research that will beat it. I wanted to showcase my own personal appreciation of those who have pledged gifts in their wills, which fund over a third of Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work. The garden’s figure of eight infinity shape, the never-ending water feature and personal engraving from an existing pledger, felt like really powerful ways to highlight how these gifts keep on giving.”


The RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021 is open to the public from the 6 to 11 July.


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