The importance of gardening and growing plants to help tackle some of the biggest issues facing us today will be showcased at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show (22-26 May), sponsored by M&G Investments.
Garden designs at the world’s most famous flower show demonstrate how plants and green spaces can improve lives and help mitigate against major environmental challenges as well as reminding us of the simple beauty of gardens and the positive effects gardening and green spaces have on our health and wellbeing.
The power of plants to improve people’s lives is embodied in ‘The Lemon Tree Trust Garden’ by debut designer Tom Massey, inspired by the ingenuity, resilience and determination of people in situations of forced migration, in particular the gardens created by Syrian refugees living in Domiz Camp, Northern Iraq. In the toughest of times and in the harshest of living conditions, refugees are creating gardens, to bring a sense of normality, wellbeing and civility back to their broken lives. For people in war torn countries gardens provide a tranquil space to escape, reconnect with home and forget the harsh reality of life in the refugee camp.
‘The RHS Feel Good Garden’, designed by twice-winner of the RHS/BBC People’s Choice Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Matt Keightley, will highlight how gardening, and simply being in a garden or green space, can make you feel happier and healthier. There is an increasing evidence base demonstrating the positive impacts that gardens and gardening can have on mental health and promoting this important message is a key element of this garden.
Matt is also designing a health and wellbeing themed garden at the RHS’ flagship Garden, RHS Garden Wisley. The RHS Feel Good Garden at Chelsea this year, has been inspired by Matt’s plans for his Wisley Garden, which will open in 2020.
A number of the gardens at this year’s show demonstrate how plants and gardens can help mitigate against growing environmental concerns such as pollution and flooding.
Tony Woods, RHS Young Designer of the year 2013, has designed a garden to accommodate the conditions of a changing climate, creating a vision for water conservation and environmentally considerate landscaping whilst maintaining a practical and versatile outdoor living space. Clever planting is used within the design to deflect and process pollution and excess rain fall, as well as to attract and sustain wildlife.
The devastating impact of plastic waste on our oceans is the focus of ‘The Pearlfisher Garden’ which celebrates the beauty of this vast underwater garden and is a call to action to brands, businesses and designers to create sustainable lifecycles for products and packaging. The garden consists of a series of aquatic tanks containing fish with cacti and succulents used to imitate the structure and form of underwater coral.
In contrast to the gardens with strong topical messages, designs such as ‘The M&G Garden’ by Sarah Price remind us that gardens can provide beautiful havens to escape, relax and enjoy being close to nature and the natural world. Known for her love of wild and natural environments, Sarah has created a romanticised Mediterranean haven celebrating the expressive and sensual language of colour and texture, light and shadow, creating a beautiful tranquil place to relax.
Tom Stuart-Smith, master planner for the new RHS Garden Bridgewater, takes centre stage in The Great Pavilion with a similarly romantic design that continues this celebration of gardens as beautiful spaces to retreat and enjoy. ‘The Weston Garden’ celebrating 60 years of the Garfield Weston Foundation features a rich diversity of texture and a careful balance between enclosure and openness with a secluded retreat at the centre. Everything in the garden is recycled with many of the plants having been at the show before or borrowed for the duration of the show.
Sue Biggs, RHS Director General Says: “It is fantastic to see the gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show are reminding us all of the power of plants. They demonstrate the huge impact gardening and green spaces can have on so many aspects of our lives, whether that be at an individual level like helping to improve health and wellbeing or to mitigate against wider environmental challenges.
“The RHS welcomes the government’s commitment to the environment announced last week, any effort to leave the UK in a better state for future generations should be applauded and is at the heart of what we do.”
Tickets are now available to buy now at www.rhs.org.uk/flowershows