Bloomin’ lovely! Experts take on Rainbows garden design challenge

Award-winning Midlands garden designers Karen Gimson and David Greaves have taken on the challenge to create a garden to raise awareness for Rainbows children’s hospice at a prestigious new festival.

Karen, also a presenter on BBC Radio Leicester’s Down to Earth, along with landscape design and construction expert David are taking on the project to reflect the work of Rainbows, the only specialist centre of its kind in the East Midlands.

The garden gurus will be creating a beautiful garden at the inaugural Belvoir Flower & Garden Festival taking place in July, set in the stunning grounds of historic Belvoir Castle.

Both are offering their expertise and labour free of charge, they have no budget – and will have only five days to create the Rainbows garden from scratch within the castle grounds during the week before the event, supported by volunteers from Brooksby College and across Leicestershire.

“It’s an irresistible challenge,” says Karen, who admits the work of the hospice for youngsters is very close to her heart.

“In 2016 I had a serious, life-threatening condition. I was lucky. I found I had all the resources to cope and get well. But it set me thinking how terrible it must be for children with short lives and their families. So I decided last year to dedicate more time to youngsters, like those supported by Rainbows hospice,” she adds.

Work on the garden design is in progress. It will feature two areas; one for parents and one for children. A focal point will be a semi-circular seating area, surrounded by woodland-style planting and flowers in calm, muted tones.

Karen commented: “The theme of the garden came from noticing the first thing that happens when anyone walks through the doors at Rainbows hospice – it feels as though they are given a comforting hug.

“I can’t really imagine what it feels like to be told your child has a life-limiting illness. But seeing the Rainbows care team in action is a real inspiration. Rainbows supports youngsters and their families when they need it most. I want to somehow encapsulate the work of Rainbows in a garden. So the seating area will represent the shape of open arms, an embrace, a hug, if you like – something I have seen works magic,” she says.

And pledges of materials, seeds, plants and volunteers are pouring in. All the trees, shrubs and plants are being provided by Leicestershire company Miles Nurseries Ltd of Hoby.

David, whose award-winning landscaping work features across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, adds: “The generosity of individuals and businesses across the horticultural world is heart-warming.  Karen and I are very excited about working on this garden to raise awareness of Rainbows and encourage people to support and engage with the charity’s wonderful work.”

The Loughborough-based Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People supports youngsters with life-limiting conditions and their families across Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.

Gary Farnfield, Rainbows Community Fundraiser, commented: “It is an amazing challenge Karen and David are taking on. I’ve seen some initial designs and to see the care and compassion of Rainbows represented in a beautiful garden is incredible. We can’t thank them enough for raising the profile of the hospice – we think it’s bloomin’ marvellous!”

Our picture shows David and Karen seeking inspiration at Rainbows.
The Belvoir Flower & Garden Festival takes place at Belvoir Castle 14 and 15 July. Further details at