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Horatio’s Garden, Chelsea Flower Show 2023


Horatio’s Garden, a standout garden at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, was created as a testament to the power of nature in nurturing wellbeing for those affected by spinal injuries. The garden’s core mission was to transform outdoor spaces within NHS spinal injury centres into vibrant and purposeful havens, designed to foster both physical and psychological recovery. The project, funded by Project Giving Back was the creation of Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg from Harris Bugg Studio. They aim to focus on exceptional design, the connection between people and the natural world, and the inventive and astute use of plants and materials. Every detail was considered to create a restorative retreat that would form the antithesis of a clinical hospital environment. The client wished to incorporate eco-friendly solutions in every element of the garden, so approached Cemfree for a bespoke solution for its wheelchair-friendly paths.


Horatio’s Garden includes several original and inclusive features within its design. These include a water feature at wheelchair height, layered planting for everyone to enjoy whether in a wheelchair or lying down in a hospital bed, a cocooning garden room for emotional solace, and accessible paths that would allow pain-free movement, especially for those using a wheelchair for the first time. Poundfield, working on behalf of Harris Bugg Studio, were tasked with creating a permeable slab, using recycled aggregates that would still have a completely smooth surface. The clients also required colour consistency throughout the pathways and wanted it to appear as one continuous slab to avoid uneven surfaces and joints that would prove difficult for wheelchair users. It was also important for the clients to have an environmentally-conscious solution; therefore, they chose Cemfree as it was able to offer the garden impressive carbon savings. It would be the first time Cemfree was used to create a permeable slab, as well as being cut and polished so testing was required for a risk-free approach.

The Solution

Cemfree Ultra was chosen for the slabs used in Horatio’s Garden. Cemfree Ultra is a powered-based activator, reaching higher ultimate strengths as well as offering carbon savings of up to 85%. 7.94 tonnes of Cemfree Ultra were provided to Poundfield for the project, which included material used for rigorous testing and trials before being installed in the garden. Cemfree was also used in the joints between the slabs to achieve the colour consistency and smooth design the clients required. A permeable slab was essential in order to provide a completely joint-free smooth surface for wheelchair users and to allow rainwater to seep through to the ground underneath.

The clients also received a bespoke service from the Cemfree team, including working alongside Horatio’s Garden, Harris Bugg Studio and Poundfield to conduct testing and install the slabs on-site. As a result, the clients received an environmentally-friendly solution for its pathing that achieved the exact design vision.

Horatio’s Garden won a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023, as well as winning Best in Show. It will be moved to Sheffield following the show and enlarged, to become the eighth Horatio’s Garden, providing a sanctuary at the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre at the Northern General Hospital.

The Result

Sustainability – In total, the garden saved 4,891.04kg of carbon by choosing Cemfree. This is the equivalent of 14 return trips from London to Barcelona.

Award Winning – The garden won multiple awards, including the most coveted ‘Best in Show’ for 2023.

Aesthetics – Cemfree was used to create a cohesive design vision, keeping colour consistency and aiding the garden in its overall aesthetic.

Innovative – Cemfree has a wide range of applications, and Horatio’s Garden is just one example of how designers can experiment with our pioneering products to create brand-new applications.

Collaboration – Cemfree thoroughly enjoyed working with Harris Bugg Studio throughout the project, and all parties worked to the same vision, creating a cohesive plan.

Talk to an expert

For more information about Cemfree products or to send an enquiry, call 01954 780687 and speak to a member of our expert team today.