Hugh and Howard Miller are a team of Liverpool-based designers, specialising in high-end interiors made from wood.
Hugh is a woodworker and furniture maker whilst Howard is an architect and landscape designer.
The creative duo are preparing to show their Urban Foraging Station from May 23 at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
The idea for the station came when Project Giving Back announced they were funding gardens for good causes at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Howard said: “The scheme is aimed at UK charities to help them raise awareness and support for their cause at the world’s most famous horticultural event.
“A focus on children’s mental health and wellbeing is central to the garden’s design, so it feels even more poignant to make the garden a reality following the challenges brought about by the pandemic.
“There have been widely reported increases in the number of referrals for support for children’s mental health, which have been seen at Alder Hey and across the country.”
Why was foraging chosen?
They chose foraging as Howard himself found it was a good way to get his own children out of the house.
“I noticed that they really love berry picking, they like it because we can all work together on the same thing - unlike gardening where I tend to do all the heavy stuff or use sharp tools they are too young for,” Howard explained.
“It’s a perfect activity for groups with multi-generations and differing ability levels.”
The garden is designed with the point of view of children rather than for adults.
Due to the variety of plants in the garden there will be something growing at all times of the year - even in the depths of winter.
As the garden is all about foraging not everything in it will be edible or even safe.
“We decided that the most important thing is authenticity, foraging is partly about learning which species are poisonous.
“The garden that will be on display at Chelsea does include mild threats.
“For example, we’re using regular brambles, not the thornless varieties, and it does include a select few poisonous plants that are easily identifiable.”
The garden contains tools for children to forage with including picnic baskets and a mobile foraging kitchen.
There will be crab apples, rose hip, elderflower, wild garlic, mushroom, water mint and poppy seeds to forage in the garden.
The trees for the garden have come all the way from Germany - they were transported back in 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions allowed the duo to travel and collect the foliage for the garden.
They have been kept safe in Knutsford ever since - with nursery Specimen Trees keeping an eye on the precious cargo.
During the show the trees will be used to create a traditional hedgerow on the outer edges of the foraging station.
The duo pulled inspiration for their hedge design from the Llyn peninsula in Wales. This is not their first time presenting at the flower festival as Howard won a gold medal in 2015 for his Dark Matter Garden - the project was created with astrophysicists at Liverpool John Moores University.
Calm space for Alder Hey
After the Chelsea Flower show the whole station will be moved to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.
Alder Hey treats over 900 children a day and patients at the specialist hospital will be able to enjoy the benefits of the garden.
It will provide a calm space for both children and their parents.
Howard said: “We were really keen to work with Alder Hey to make a garden that celebrates the amazing work they do supporting children and their families.
“We’re a family business, local to the hospital and many of our family and friends have benefited from Alder Hey’s care; they’re a big part of the community.
“It’s a real privilege too that we can move the garden back to Alder Hey where it will become a living resource for children and medical practitioners to use for social prescribing and other informal therapies.”
The Urban Foraging Station can be viewed at Chelsea from May 23 to 28.
After which it will be relocated to Liverpool in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.