“Frederic's stunning and beautiful garden enabled us to have more than a thousand conversations about mental health at the show. So many people remarked on the wonderful design, the exceptional planting, and the thoughts and feelings it evoked. It helped people to think about mental health differently, to connect with their own well-being, and to talk about their emotions in a new way. We are incredibly grateful to Frederic for creating 'On the Edge' and giving us this extraordinary opportunity.” Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health

On the Edge

Centre for Mental Health changes people’s lives by using research to bring about better services and fairer policies.  We worked with Centre for Mental Health to create a garden to evoke a very personal, but universal journey, from mental health issues to acceptance and understanding.  The garden accentuated the multiplicity and diversity of mental health issues confronted by an equally diverse spectrum of individuals.  

‘On the Edge’ is an allegorical garden that tells the very topical tale of a journey from mental breakdown to acceptance and self-understanding.  The garden creates a physical evocation of mental health difficulty and the many journeys that people take to cope with their condition and manage their life.

The garden is entered via a narrow path, leading to ‘the edge’ of a pool of fragmented reflections. It cuts through a spikey, grey planting scheme representing the brittle façade of those falling apart inside.  A tall hedge exacerbates the feeling of claustrophobia and entrapment. 

Three upright trees act as ‘pointers’.  The subject is led towards an uncomfortably steep staircase into a confusing cluster of trees.  The path leads towards the final upright tree where, stepping out, they find an increasingly broad, open staircase.  The hedge of self-defense has been broken into parts. 

The staircase leads down into the therapeutic space.  Two comfortable chairs may represent the dialogue of ‘the talking cure’ or the hope of a new start in life, positioned beside a reflective pool.  The space is surrounded by a gentle, optimistic planting scheme: the plants of the first area are complemented by flowering herbaceous perennials.

The Garden, generously supported by Professor Dame Sue Bailey, was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal.

Garden artwork by Gabriel Bohmer.

The garden was built in collaboration with DTaylor Landscapes.

Thanks to following, who donated their products and expertise: Bespoke York Stone by London Stone, Resin-bound gravel by Sureset UK.  Microcement walls by Deco Cemento Ltd.