NAS_Garden_Visualisation - Sophie_Parmenter_Studio_&_Dido_Milne_(CSK Architects)

National Autistic Society Garden awarded Silver Gilt at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

Tuesday 21 May 2024 – First time designers Sophie Parmenter (Sophie Parmenter Studio) and Dido Milne (CSK Architects) have been awarded a Silver Gilt medal for the National Autistic Society Garden which has been generously sponsored by Project Giving Back.

Oxford trained botanist and garden designer, Sophie joined forces with Dido Milne, director of Surrey based CSK Architects, to create the main avenue garden for the National Autistic Society.

The National Autistic Society Garden aims to raise awareness about autism and masking at the show, which takes place from 21 – 25 May 2024.

Co-designer, Dido Milne, said: “This garden has been a collaboration from the outset and we are so grateful to everyone that has worked tirelessly to deliver the garden.  We are so grateful to all of the incredible makers and suppliers, all of whom have gone above and beyond, the garden wouldn’t have happened without them.”

Co-designer, Sophie Parmenter, added: “We would like to thank Mark Gregory and the team from Landform Consultants for their unwavering support and incredible expertise to bring the garden to life, as well as Humaira Ikram from Studio Ikram and the planting team who wove their horticultural magic. We are also so grateful to our sponsor, Project Giving Back, for their belief in our garden.”

Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won a Silver Gilt Award for the National Autistic Society Garden. Our garden aims to raise awareness of masking, a survival strategy used by some autistic people, consciously or unconsciously, to appear non-autistic in order to fit in and be accepted in society. We know that this can come at a great cost however, as it involves suppressing natural behaviours and coping mechanisms which can result in mental health difficulties, exhaustion and low self esteem.

“We are so grateful to the amazing team who have worked on our beautiful garden, especially our incredible designers Sophie Parmenter (Sophie Parmenter Studio) and Dido Milne (CSK Architects) and our generous sponsor, Project Giving Back.”

A strong ecological ethos runs through the garden, showcasing the circularity of regenerative systems and the interdependent relationship between natural ecosystems and man-made materials.

A series of spaces dedicated to the different kinds of relationships in our lives are defined by cork ‘masks’ and encircle a sunken, protected sanctuary at the heart of the garden. The planting scheme is multi-layered, evolving from wetland meadow to river birch woodland, with a vibrant colour palette at its boundary soothing to softer hues at its heart, where textured curling bark sits alongside large, crusted blocks of expanded cork.

The garden is sponsored by Project Giving Back, a unique grant-making charity that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Following the show, the garden will be relocated to a National Autistic Society supported living site at Catrine Bank alongside the river Ayr in Scotland.



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