Maggie’s garden designers confess all in brand new podcast series

Wednesday 12 June 2024


Dame Laura Lee and Darren Hawkes standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the Maggie's Forth Valley lake

‘The Garden Design Confessional’ podcast launches, hosted by the award-winning landscape designer Darren Hawkes, featuring fellow Maggie’s garden designers.


In the first series of this ‘tell all’ podcast, Darren interviews the designers behind some of the stunning gardens at Maggie’s.

The guests share their design inspirations, reveal their ‘garden confessions’ and share how designing for a Maggie’s centre differs from other projects.

Guests include:

  • Dan Pearson – designer of Maggie's Manchester and West London
  • Sarah Price – designer of Maggie's Southampton garden
  • Piet Odulf – designer of Maggie's Royal Marsden garden
  • Kim Wilkie – designer of Maggie's Swansea
  • Marie Louise Agius – designer of Maggie's Yorkshire
  • Arrabella Lennox Boyd – designer of Maggie's Dundee

Maggie’s Chief Executive, Dame Laura Lee, also features in an episode alongside her co-client Viscountess Marcia Blakenham.


The importance of connection with nature for people with cancer

While each Maggie's garden is unique, they all facilitate a connection with nature – something that is particularly powerful in a healthcare setting.

In the first episode of the podcast, Sara Price shares how she chose plants and trees that are native to the surrounding New Forest to put centre visitors at ease and cocoon them from the nearby hospital and car park.

Many of the designers have had personal experiences with cancer that have gone on to inspire their designs for Maggie's.

Host Darren Hawkes talks about his mother's hospice room and how it overlooked a garden tended to by patients and their families.

Being active in the natural world makes living so rich and dying much easier – because you realise that you’re a part of it all.


Darren started working with Maggie’s in 2016, creating a show garden for Maggie's at Chelsea Flower Show. This lead to to landscape plans for the gardens at Maggie's Forth Valley and Maggie's Barts.

“What’s really impressive about working with Maggie’s is their understanding of the impact that a well-designed space has on their visitors and staff.

“I was really curious about how each designer had interpreted the brief given to them and managed to achieve a consistent atmosphere whilst creating radically different gardens.

“I was also aware there was something much deeper going on – these gardens aren’t just about the plants and the hard landscape, but also facilitating deep connections between individuals and their interactions with the living world.”


Garden design in Maggie's roots

Dame Laura Lee says: “Our founder Maggie was a garden designer herself and was very aware of the importance of a connection to nature.

“We want people who come to Maggie’s to be able to look or step outside from as many places as possible, even if it's only into a planted courtyard.

“The landscaping can often also be a threshold or decompression space for people coming to one of our centres for the first time.

“We are so grateful to Darren for his work on this podcast. It’s a fascinating series of discussions that we’re so proud to be a part of.”


‘A compelling, insightful and emotional series of podcasts’

Clare Foster, House & Garden Editor, says: “It’s fascinating to hear about the designers’ creative processes and how they differ when approaching a Maggie’s garden, designed specifically for people facing the challenges of living with cancer.

“It is also touching to hear how cancer has impacted the designers' own lives. Darren has created a compelling, insightful and emotional series of podcasts.”


Listen to The Garden Design Confessional podcast

The Garden Design Confessional is available from 13 June on all major podcast platforms, including:

You can listen to the first episode with Sara Price here:


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Our cancer support specialists are here to listen to your concerns and find the help you need.


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