A garden at the world’s largest annual flower show is helping raise awareness of a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Sometimes referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the debilitating condition affects an estimated 800,000 women in the UK.
While many women experience moderate but tolerable symptoms of PMS during their monthly cycle, around one in ten women in the UK experiences symptoms severe enough to stop them living their normal lives.
Many sufferers say they experience suicidal thoughts, loss of concentration and anxiety in the days leading up to their period, leading many to be misdiagnosed as having a mental health disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. But unlike most mental health issues, the symptoms of PMS typically subside with the onset of the menstrual period.
Inspired by the experience of her daughter Sarah, who has suffered from severe premenstrual syndrome since the age of 14, landscape architect Emma Bannister teamed-up with the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) to create a garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show to help raise awareness of the distressing condition.
The garden, entitled ‘PMS: Outside Inside for NAPS’, attempts to convey the biological connection between a women’s mood changes and the changes that happen in the brain that are triggered by ovulation.
Initially, visitors see an area of hazel trees, ferns and wildflowers, but a closer look reveals the hidden centre of the garden behind and through a curving willow screen.
At the garden’s heart is a contorted hazel featuring twisted branches and drooping foliage.
The healthy, ‘normal’ and common feel of the planting on the outside of the garden contrasts with the solitary and distorted mood of the inside.
Speaking about the garden, Emma said, “I hope that the garden will encourage people to talk about their PMS related mental health more openly and honestly, discover the specialist information, advice and support that NAPS offers and that women who are suffering in silence are encouraged to go to their GPs and be treated effectively.”
‘PMS: Outside Inside for NAPS’ was awarded a Silver-Gilt medal at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.
For more information on PMS/PMDD, visit the NAPS website