The story behind Sunflowers and the Hospice movement.

Sunflowers have long been symbolically associated with hospice care, the yellow sunflower being the emblem of the hospice movement.

But what is the story behind the Sunflower and why is this? …

No one can help but smile when greeted with the sight of Sunflowers, their heads tilted in exaltation towards the sun. Bright and cheery, with brilliant yellow petals, also known as “rays”, sunflowers have an unmistakable appearance and while they are stunningly beautiful, they also are rich in meaning.

Used the world over as the emblem of the hospice movement, Sunflowers are thought to represent love, admiration, loyalty, positivity and strength – all qualities undeniably encompassed in hospice care. Sunflowers are known for being ‘happy’ flowers and a symbol of joy and used at a time when joy and happiness can be hard to find.

The design for the St Giles Hospice garden project takes on the theme of Sunflowers – showcasing bespoke paving inlaid with a sunflower design and a custom made metal screen laser cut in a pattern of sunflowers.

To add to that hundreds of specially made metal Sunflowers, sold to raise funds for both St Giles and to help fund the garden project, will create an art installation at the heart of the garden

One of the metal Sunflowers made especially for the project

The seeds of the Sunflowers are thought to represent patients and the surrounding petals love, care and compassion. Sunflowers move to follow the sun during the day, from East to West, at night returning to face the East, ready to face the new day. They draw strength from focusing on the light and not the darkness. As Helen Keller famously quoted;

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow … it’s what sunflowers do.

Helen Keller

The metal Sunflowers are being sold for £20 each, with 50% of the proceeds going to St Giles and 50% going to help fund the building of the garden, first as a Show Garden at RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May 2020 and then back in the grounds of the hospice in Whittington, Staffordshire.

Sunflowers also traditionally symbolise friendship and support, as summed up beautifully in this quote;

Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows.

Jean Paul Richter – influential German writer 1763 – 1825

To find out all about the St Giles Hospice garden, visit the dedicated project website here . Or contact Karen Tatlow Garden Design at

Published by karentatlowgardendesign

An award winning Garden Designer creating bespoke gardens with the personal touch

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