Champagne corks were popping today as garden design duo Karen Tatlow (from Lichfield, Staffordshire) and Katherine Hathaway (from Chippenham, Wiltshire) won a prestigious Silver-Gilt medal from the RHS for their garden highlighting the emotional and physical challenges of living with diabetes.
The Habit of Living Garden is the first ever show garden in support of Diabetes UK and aims to raise awareness of a condition which affects more people than cancer and dementia combined – 4.7m people in the UK alone.
After months and months of hard work, which has reached its peak in the last 17 days, the team can finally step back and bask in the success of this very personal project.
Karen and Katherine both have direct experience of diabetes having watching loved ones in their own families struggle with the condition. Karen’s stepdaughter battled severe illness following complications due to her Type 1 diabetes, while Katherine’s father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in later life.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “I’m delighted that 'The Habit of Living' show garden has been recognised with a Silver-Gilt medal from the RHS.
“This unique garden has been designed to support Diabetes UK and highlights the physical and emotional challenges of living with diabetes.
“We are currently facing a diabetes crisis in the UK. Every two minutes someone is diagnosed with the condition and 500 people with diabetes die prematurely every week.
“The time to act is now and I hope that when visitors enjoy the beauty of this garden design they also consider the very serious message behind it.”
Karen said: “The whole process has been an absolute labour of love and one thing I hadn’t expected was how much it would help Emma talk about her struggles. Through it all we’ve met so many people touched by the condition, but overall it has been such a positive experience.”
Katherine said: “It’s an emotional night for me. Sadly, my dad isn’t with us anymore, but he was a very keen gardener and he would be immensely proud - and probably pretty amazed - at what we’ve achieved.”
Design references are made throughout to diabetes management, with sculptural graphs representing the need for constant monitoring of blood glucose levels and intermittent water feature jets that symbolise the frequency of diagnosis – someone hears this news every 2 minutes in the UK.