• 4 June 2021 4:46 pm


Christian Aid’s Wish you were here…? show garden at the July 2006 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (4-9 July 2006) focused on the importance of education in the fight against the global AIDS pandemic.

Created by award-winning designer Claire Whitehouse, the garden is inspired by Christian Aid funded HIV projects in Jamaica. It will whisk flower show visitors away from the familiar picture-postcard images associated with the Caribbean to the other side of Jamaica, where they will be introduced to Christian Aid partners and the vulnerable people with whom they work.

Behind the glossy brochure image of Jamaica lurks a very different reality for the majority of its 2.7 million inhabitants. Young Jamaicans in particular face poverty, illiteracy, growing unemployment and rising HIV infection rates.

The Caribbean has the world’s second highest HIV infection rate after sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS related illness claimed an estimated 24,000 lives across the region last year and is the leading cause of death amongst 15-44 year olds. There are 300,000 people living with HIV in the region and 30,000 people became infected in 2005.

In 2005 AIDS caused 3.1 million deaths globally. In total 40.3 million people are living with HIV and 4.9 million were newly infected last year. AIDS related illnesses have killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognised in 1981.

Karen Hedges, show garden project manager for Christian Aid, said: ‘HIV presents us with an enormous challenge and often it is the poorest communities that are worst affected. Education is vital. Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and HIV rates are continuing to rise at an alarming rate. We want to educate visitors to the garden about the great work of our partners and encourage them to join us in the fight against this deadly disease. The garden is both beautiful and educational.’

Christian Aid works in 50 countries with people of many cultures and religions. We fund 190 partners working on HIV projects in 40 countries.

In 2004 the Christian Aid show garden focused on trade justice in Senegal and won the prestigious Tudor Rose for best in show and an RHS Gold Medal.

Description of the garden for RHS

From the beautiful, lush setting of an idyllic Jamaican hotel, Christian Aid invites you to step through the picture postcard and visit the other side of Jamaica. Award- winning designer Claire Whitehouse has created a garden that tells the story of HIV in the Caribbean and highlights the importance of education in the fight against the global pandemic. Away from the luxury of the all-inclusive hotels, many Jamaicans live in poverty. Illiteracy and unemployment are growing problems, especially for young people. This is a garden of contrasts, from the vibrant colour of the hotel planting you enter a community of ramshackle buildings and corrugated iron. Wander through the community centre, take a peek into the local shop and nightclub, and listen to the stories of our partners and the people with whom they work.

Photographs show the GOLD MEDAL WINNING garden, Claire Whitehouse and the "other side of the Garden"

Wish you were here…? Plant List

N.B. Most of these plants are not hardy in this country, and need to be kept indoors over winter.
For Stockists, please consult the RHS Book, The Plant Finder. Specialist growers and suppliers will be able to provide the best advice on the care and suitability of these plants for your situation.

The palms, and many other plants, are for sale at The Palm Centre, Ham- (020 8255 6191)
Many of these plants did not originate in Jamaica, but are grown in gardens there, and throughout the Tropics.

Palms, Cycads and Bananas
Butia capitata Jelly Palm
Cycas revoluta Sago Palm
Dypsis decaryii Triangle Palm
Licuala grandis Ruffled Fan Palm
Musa basjoo Japanese Hardy Banana
Phoenix canariensis Canary island Date
Phoenix roebelenii Pygmy Date Palm
Rhapsis excelsa Lady Palm
Trithrinax acanthocoma Campestre Palm

Other foliage plants
Aeschynanthus marmoratus
Alocasia ‘Calidora’ Elephant’s Ears
Aloe vera Aloe
Begonia x corallina ‘Lucerna’
Anthurium andraeanum Flamingo Lily
Caladium bicolor Heart of Jesus
Dieffenbachia seguine Dumb Cane
Dracaena marginata Money Tree
Maranta leuconeura

Bougainvillea hybrids
Mandevillea x amabilis ‘Alice Du Pont’ Pink Mandevillea
Mandevillea boliviensis
Passiflora allantophylla‘Allardii’ Passion Flower
Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Elliot’
Passiflora citrina
Passiflora punctata ‘Pura Vida’
Passiflora ‘Lavender Lady’
Thunbergia grandiflora Sky Flower

Fruit and Vegetables
Ananas comosus ‘Champaca’ Pineapple
Capsicum annuum ‘Early Jalepeno’ Chilli Pepper
Citrus limon Lemon
Pimento ‘Hungarian Hot Wax’
Pimento ‘ Santa Fe Grande’
Solanum muricatum Melon Pear

Flowering Shrubs and Perennials
Brilliantaisia subulugurica
Brugmansia candida ‘Aurea’
Calliandra surinamensis‘Dixy Pink’ Pink Powder Puff
Cannas in variety
Canna ‘Tropicanna’
Cassia didimobotrya
Celosia argentea ‘Caracas’
Crotelaria laburnifolia
Datura meteloides
Guzmania hybrids
Heliconia psittacorum’Kolibri’ Parakeet Flower
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Ixora coccinea
Justicia carnea ‘Alba’ Brazilian Plume Flower
Kalanchoe pinnata Leaf of Life
Lantana camera
Nerium oleander Oleander
Pelargonium ‘Antic series’
Plumbago auriculata
Strelitzia reginae Bird of Paradise
Thunbergia battiscombii
Thunbergia erecta King’s Mantle

About Claire Whitehouse
Claire Whitehouse has been working as a garden designer since 1988. She has won awards for her previous show gardens at Hampton Court Palace Flower show, including the ultimate prize, the Tudor Rose, for her Christian Aid garden in 2004.
‘I studied Botany as an undergraduate, and went on to gain a Ph.D. in Plant Cytogenetics at University of Birmingham in 1980. After the birth of my daughter in 1986, I wanted to use my botanical knowledge, but work for myself in a more flexible manner, and be outside rather than in laboratories. I therefore trained in Garden Design at English Gardening School, gaining a Diploma in Garden Design in 1988. ‘
Exhibit history
Chelsea Flower Show
2005 RSPB – Silver medal
2000 Bart’s City Life Saver – Silver medal
1999 Action for Blind People – Silver medal
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
2004 Christian Aid ‘Seeds of hope’ – RHS Gold medal and Tudor Rose
2002 Gardening Which – Silver/Gilt medal
2002 Christian Aid – Silver/gilt medal
2001 Daily Mail/RHS – show feature (not judged)
1999 Christian Aid – Silver medal
1998 Christian Aid – Bronze medal
1997 British Red Cross – Silver/gilt medal
1996 British Red Cross – Silver medal
1995 British Red Cross – Silver medal
In 2005 Claire staged a Mediaeval Garden inside Temple Church, Inner Temple, for the Bible Society. And in 2002 she designed a sensory garden on the top deck of an open-topped bus to celebrate the working partnership between I.C.I. and the deaf/blind charity Sense.
If you want to give to Christian Aid’s HIV fund just click on the postcard