A passion for the power of good design

Paul and Su support Maggie’s because they are lovers of modern design and architecture as well as admirers of Maggie’s work and have opened their garden Pheasant Barn in Kent for the National Garden Scheme for 14 years.

Paul and Su both strongly believe in the very real power of architecture and gardens to raise spirits, improve moods and make people feel better about themselves and the world.

“We first encountered Maggie’s when the architect who helped us design the interior of our home recommended that we visit the Maggie’s at Hammersmith.,” says Paul. “We were completely knocked out by both the uplifting quality of the design of the centre and the garden and the contrast with the necessarily industrial feel of the hospital; this was an example in spades (no pun intended) of precisely what Maggie Keswick and Charles Jenks intended.”

Since Maggie’s correlated so strongly with their values they have since made donations to the development of the gardens at three of the recent Maggie’s centres and keep in close touch with the development team.

They started designing their own garden about 25 years ago on a barnyard and land used for sheep grazing. and started opening it for the National Garden Scheme almost 15 years ago.

“There were a number of reasons for this: the money raised goes to very good causes, we were impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the local volunteer organisers, and as we had stolen a number of our ideas from garden visiting wethought it only fair to return the compliment. Finally we felt good if any visitors went away enthused and keen to do something different in their gardens,” says Su.

Su and Paul have been directly involved in both sides of governance of the charitable sector, on funding and on Charity boards. They therefore applaud the National Garden Scheme’s funding strategy based on long-term relationships with their chosen charities and longer-term funding commitments.

“It is very difficult to plan as a charity when continuity of funding is uncertain and so much effort has to be dedicated each year to applying for funding opportunities that would be much more effectively directed to the delivery of the service,” adds Paul.

“We wholeheartedly support the relocation of the National Garden Scheme’s Chelsea garden to Addenbrooke’s. Tom Stuart-Smith is perhaps our favourite of the current crop of garden designers and as long as it is cost-effective, transferring it to Addenbrooke’s seems a no-brainer. So much effort goes into the planning and construction of Chelsea gardens it seems so wasteful of resources that they do not have an after-life.”

Visit Pheasant Barn when it opens on dates from 28 June through July.
Click here for details

Read more about our connection with Maggie’s and our RHS Chelsea Show Garden here

This story was originally published in the 2024 Little Yellow Book of Gardens and Healthread it here


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