The Power of Community Gardening: Championed at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

Golden anniversary of UK’s biggest gardening campaign – RHS Britain in Bloom – to be celebrated at the planet’s most popular flower show

A previously rat-run alleyway in Liverpool turned into a plant paradise

For the first time, a key theme of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, sponsored by M&G Investments (20-24 May), is championing the power of community gardening. Research shows it creates stronger, safer communities; greener, more beautiful neighbourhoods; and regenerates wasteland across Britain.*

This year is the 50th anniversary of Britain in Bloom** – Europe’s biggest community gardening campaign, run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) since 2002 – and in April many of our 300,000 Bloom volunteers sowed half a million golden, pollinator-friendly sunflowers to celebrate.

?Fifty Golden Years of Bloom in the South West’ is a floral spectacle in the Great Pavilion designed by Bloom judge Jon Wheatley. Many of the 600 Bloom groups in the South West contributed ideas to create a true reflection of Bloom’s story. After the show the display will be taken to communities in Scotland including Fife in Bloom who are helping with the build. In keeping with the Bloom ethos, the display will be made from recycled or donated materials and everybody working on it is an unpaid volunteer.

Nick Knowles, RHS Ambassador for community gardening, will launch the exhibit: “Jon’s design really represents the true character of Bloom – creativity, resourcefulness and passionate people. Most of the plants, like edibles and pollinators, have been kindly donated by British growers and the rest were found dumped in skips and brought back to life.

“It reminds me of my trip up to Liverpool where I was inspired by the inventiveness of the community I met who’d created a paradise out of nothing and began the project by planting up a bath!” said Nick. “We want more people to do the same in their own community so what better place to shout about community gardening than at the biggest flower show on earth.”

For the first time in 30 years, Alan Titchmarsh is designing a show feature, ?>From the Moors to the Sea – a celebration of RHS Britain in Bloom’. Alan has designed the feature with leading garden designer Kate Gould and it will depict the Yorkshire Dales and an Isle of Wight seaside scene. Bloom volunteers will be helping to build the garden.

The idea that community horticulture can enhance the lives of young people struggling with issues such as drug addiction and unemployment will be explored in ?Reachout’ – a Fresh Garden commissioned by social enterprise New Ground and designed by John Everiss. The idea evolved from a discussion with young people living within a deprived area in Lancashire.

For the Discovery Zone in the Great Pavilion, Groundwork UK have teamed up with young designer Owen Morgan to demonstrate to visitors how everyday outdoor communal spaces transform lives across the UK and how everyone has a spot they treasure, whether it is a bench for quiet reflection, a place to grow vegetables, or a space to kick a football – a place that makes us happier.

Also in Discovery, the National Union of Students will be showing how college and university goers can grow, harvest and sell their own crops by engaging with the wider community. The ?NUS Student Eats’ exhibit hopes to inspire another generation of growers.

Continuing the theme in the Great Pavilion is ?The Techno Allotment’, by Leeds District Allotment Gardeners Federation. It will demonstrate to visitors how you can grow food in your community in a stylish, but cheap way, in order to highlight the joy and benefits of growing food in your very own allotment. The exhibit is a working allotment using materials and technical innovations, and the design team consists of five allotment gardening enthusiasts.

School pupils will be exhibiting on ?Miracle Gro’wers Discovery & Learning Garden’ designed by Barry Holliman. The children have grown plants from seed and have created a productive vegetable garden. A significant part of Bloom, and community gardening, is volunteers engaging with schools in order to educate young people. Pupils experimented throughout the growing process with various treatments meaning they now understand how to grow their own plants in their community.

Cities across the UK are connecting with nature by breathing life into their communal spaces in order to create a cleaner and greener future. ?Positively Stoke-on-Trent’ is a Show Garden designed by Bartholomew Landscaping and Stoke on Trent City Council that will give visitors a glimpse of how all UK cities may look one day with sustainable planting, woodland, grasses and ferns, edible planting and much more. Jo Thompson has designed ?London Square’, a Fresh Garden, based on an elegant public space with trees and a place to sit.

To find out more about the power of community gardening or to join more than 3,900 RHS Britain in Bloom groups already involved, visit: www.rhs.org.uk/communities

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