Purple flowers growing in a garden. Behind them is a path, other plants, and garden furniture like seats made of stone.

How the Macmillan Legacy Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival has helped people living with cancer

Published: 03 June 2024
In this blog, Lee-anne discusses The Macmillan Legacy Garden, a special garden designed to illustrate how vital a legacy gift is to people living with cancer that was showcased at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Malvern Spring Festival in May 2024.
A selfie of Lee-anne Menzies, a Legacy Promotions Officer at Macmillan. She has long brown hair and is wearing a blue striped white top. Lee-anne is smiling at the camera and appears to be indoors.

Lee-Anne Menzies Legacy Promotion Officer at Macmillan

Why we created the Macmillan Legacy Garden

A person with red nail varnish on is holding up a leaflet for a Macmillan event. Behind the leaflet is a garden that is in a circle shape. It has been roped off. It has different plants in it and a gravel path.

Macmillan Cancer Support worked with garden designers Kerianne Fitzpatrick and TJ Kennedy to create The Macmillan Legacy Garden.

The beautiful garden, which was designed to illustrate how special and vital a legacy gift is to people living with cancer, was showcased at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Malvern Spring Festival on 9 – 12 May 2024.

The garden showed how all life cycles, human and nature, are fed, supported and enriched by what has come before.

It gave the Macmillan Legacy team the opportunity to talk about the importance of Gifts in Wills, which fund over a third of Macmillan's services.

During the show we hosted two Gifts in Wills events.

At these events we provided more information about the Macmillan Free Wills Service, and showed what Macmillan are doing to support people living with cancer and their families in the West Midlands. We also talked about the impact a gift in will could have on future generations.

Kerianne Fitzpatrick (left) and TJ Kennedy (right) are standing on a path in the Macmillan Legacy Garden at the at RHS Malvern Spring Festival. They are both holding a piece of paper. The garden is round and had many plants.
Image: Kerianne Fitzpatrick (left) and TJ Kennedy (right). Image Credit: Fiona Walsh.

The Macmillan Legacy Garden's key features

A set of fake footprints are on a gravel path in a garden. They lead to a stone chair. The garden has different plants and flowers.
Image credit: Fiona Walsh

When designing the garden, Keri and TJ put a lot of thought into linking the key features to Macmillan’s services, the people who use them, and those who have generously left a gift in their will to Macmillan.

We are delighted that the Macmillan Legacy Garden was awarded a silver medal at this year’s RHS Malvern Spring Festival.

The garden was a circular, rhythmic space which took inspiration from lifecycles and the ever-moving energy within them. The circle of life and legacies are interconnected concepts that emphasise the ongoing cycle of giving, impact, and renewal.

Legacy giving allows people to contribute to this cycle by leaving a lasting impact that goes beyond their own lifetime, benefitting the lives of other people and bringing positive change for generations to come.

Within the path which runs through the Macmillan Legacy Garden, visitors could find sets of footprints. The polished footprints in front of the Legacy Seat represent a person who has already left a gift to Macmillan in their will. While sitting on the Legacy Seat our supporters could look down and see themselves reflected within the garden.

The other footprints, made of brushed steel, represent those who have used Macmillan’s services. Those who have left a gift will forever walk alongside the people who need our services, allowing Macmillan to always be there for people living with cancer when they need us most.

The Legacy Seat was a design based on a maple seed wing. This marks the beginning of the life cycle of a maple tree, 3 of which feature within the garden. Maples have a remarkable ability to regenerate and propagate, and can survive in adverse conditions.

The seat offers comfort and tranquillity to those who rest there, and provides a place where people can reflect and consider what their lasting legacy may be. It was interesting to hear the thoughts of our visitors and what the Legacy Seat meant to them.

Some said that the seat reminded them of an angel’s wing and made them think of their Macmillan Nurse. Another person said it reminded them of a butterfly and the transformative power of Macmillan’s services.

A close up of a water structure that has been built around a circular garden. The water feature fences in the garden. There is a small bridge over it that leads to a gravel path. The garden includes different plants and flowers.
Image credit: Three Counties

The water feature around the outside of the garden encouraged a moment of reflection, giving visitors the opportunity to consider their own journey through life. We provided visitors with a token and encouraged them to make a wish for the future, or to take a moment to think about a loved one. More than 840 people took part in this activity throughout the show.

We hope they valued the time this granted them to take a moment to reflect. Seeing oneself within the garden acted as a reminder that anyone can leave a lasting legacy.

Every plant within the Macmillan Legacy Garden had a purpose. The garden allowed visitors to experience nature at different life stages, from seedlings to maturity. Some were in bud, others had bloomed, and then the magnolia and tulips had begun to whither.

This showed the beauty in every stage. The garden hosted a number of flowers which attract pollinators. The artistically presented deadwood within the garden provided an ecosystem, allowing life to carry on.

A gravel path surrounded by different plants including purple flowers. There is a bundle of wood alongside the path.
Image credit: Fiona Walsh

Throughout the show, the Legacy team handed out Forget-me-not seeds to more than 1800 people who visited the garden. Forget-me-not seeds are symbolic of leaving a lasting legacy. They represent the need for remembrance and acted as a reminder that Macmillan will never forget those who have chosen to leave a gift in their will.

The garden pays tribute to the extraordinary kindness of all of the people who have left a gift in their will to Macmillan. It also encouraged our brilliant supporters to consider leaving a legacy donation in the future. With more and more people living with cancer each year, gifts in wills are needed more than ever to support the increasing need for our services.

The garden will have a lasting legacy as it is relocated to its new home at Wildgoose Rural Training and Nature Reserve. The 6-acre care farm for adults and young people, which is in the heart of Worcestershire, offers its students the opportunity to learn about horticulture, conservation, farming, arts and crafts, cooking, mechanics and animal care.

This helps connect them with nature and all the goodness that the outdoors brings. The students will be taught how to plant and maintain the garden so that it can be enjoyed by the public for years to come.

A lined notebook with a dark green ballpoint pen on a light green background.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your will

More blogs like this