Arthritis Research Garden, RHS Chelsea 2012

Arthritis Research Garden, Chelsea Flower Show

Located in the heart of the Chelsea Flower Show, on Main Avenue, The Arthritis Research UK (now known as Versus Arthritis) Garden stands as a testament to the timeless allure of Renaissance-inspired design. This remarkable garden, designed to captivate visitors with its drama, formality, and sheer beauty, draws inspiration from the storied gardens of Villa Lante and Villa d’Este. However, it distinguishes itself by embracing a more minimalist and stripped-down aesthetic, revealing a simple yet profoundly elegant design.

At its core, this garden is a journey into the Renaissance era, a time when the world was captivated by the pursuit of order and the human desire to assert control over nature. One of the most captivating features of the Arthritis Research UK garden is its exploration of this Renaissance fascination with taming waterflow, which is showcased through an array of mesmerising waterfalls and cascades.

Three water features –

The garden pays homage to the ingenious and technical skills employed during this period by recreating and emphasising three remarkable water features. These features are a testament to the era’s innovative spirit and mastery of hydraulic engineering. Each water element is meticulously designed to harness the power of gravity and hydrostatic forces, creating a dynamic and harmonious display that captivates the senses.

The first of these water features is the long fountain seat, an inviting stretch adorned with 30 powerful jets. Against the backdrop of lush greenery, this elegant seating area beckons visitors to pause, relax, and contemplate the interplay of water and nature. The precision and control with which the jets operate are a nod to the Renaissance ideals of precision and mastery over the environment.

Adjacent to the fountain seat is a breath-taking water cascade—a testament to the garden’s commitment to replicating the awe-inspiring beauty of Renaissance water features. The cascade’s rhythmic flow not only enchants the eye but also serves as a reminder of the period’s obsession with the aesthetics of water in motion.

Further enhancing the garden’s allure is a shallow mirror pool, featuring an infinity edge that seems to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. This feature captures the essence of the Renaissance’s fascination with optical illusions and the interplay between art and nature. It invites visitors to contemplate the ever-changing reflections on the water’s surface, creating a sense of serenity and connection with the environment.


The Arthritis Research Garden has received well-deserved recognition for its exceptional design and execution. In 2012, it was awarded the prestigious RHS Chelsea Silver Gilt Medal, a testament to its outstanding contribution to the world-renowned Chelsea Flower Show. Additionally, it garnered the People’s Choice Award in the same year, capturing the hearts of visitors.

In 2020, the garden was once again in the spotlight, nominated for the People’s Choice Award for Garden of The Decade. This nomination speaks to the enduring appeal of the Arthritis Research Garden, which continues to captivate audiences with its blend of history, artistry, and a deep connection to the natural world.