Gardening Will Save The Word: And Other Lessons I learnt at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
This week I was lucky enough to visit RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Strolling amongst the floral clad ladies, the dapper gents on a beautiful Spring day and the odd immaculately uniformed Chelsea pensioners thrown in, nothing could have appeared more quintessentially British. But amongst all this beauty there was a more serious message coming across loud and clear - GARDENING IS GOOD FOR YOU.
I was completely blown away by the whole experience. The gardens that have been created are truly inspirational and the designers have used their talents to showcase how gardening can benefit society, bring communities together, combat poverty, heal the sick, improve mental health and well being, future proof our environment, tackle pollution and climate change and reduce our carbon footprint. Amazing!
Using horticulture to illustrate how these outcomes can be achieved is both aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking. All the gardens had different messages but my favourites included;
The CAMFED Garden designed by Jilayne Rickards. “Giving Girls In Africa A Space to Grow”.
A dramatic recreation of an African landscape demonstrated that unlocking girls power through education will break the cycle of poverty. CAMFED educate mothers and school children to develop climate smart agricultural businesses creating jobs and building prosperity in their communities.
“If women farmers had access to the same resources as men, up to 150 million undernourished people in the world would be lifted out of poverty” CAMFED.
Floella’s Future Garden designed by Birmingham City Council
Floella’s Future Garden designed by Birmingham City Council celebrated the Year of Green Action and highlights current environmental challenges and how they can be overcome using modern processes ensuring the balance of the natural environment is maintained showcasing plants that can remove toxins and manage our reactions to allergens in the air.
The Ikea Garden designed by Tom Dixon
The Ikea Garden designed by Tom Dixon showed how new thinking can revolutionise our attitudes to urban gardening. Their mission statement “gardening will save the world” came to life in their garden showing how even in small urban spaces we can grow our own food and create beauty.
“We hope to challenge the way society looks at growing food and addressing that it is both possible and rewarding to grow your own plants in the city” James Futcher, Creative Leader Ikea.
Welcome To Yorkshire Garden by Mark Gregory
The Welcome To Yorkshire Garden by Mark Gregory, inspired by the county’s proud history of industry, recreated a canal complete with working lock and lock keepers cottage focusing on the beauty of the natural.
Facebook Garden by Joe Perkins
The Facebook Garden by Joe Perkins celebrated how social media can bring communities together. 1.5 million UK people are part of a Facebook gardening group and over a fifth of Brits now use it as their main source of gardening advice - connecting people online encouraging them to connect offline.
All of the Chelsea gardens featured trees, emphasising the importance of them in improving climate change and encouraging us all to plant trees in our own backyards. These were just a few of the highlights on offer. This amazing event reminded me of a few home truths whilst also opening my eyes to the ground breaking and innovative work that is going on to improve our planet that we can all get involved in - here’s a few simple suggestions
Get some houseplants. Research has shown that houseplants not only filter toxins and improve air quality but generate a feel good quality by encouraging nurturing.
Get gardening. Even if space is in short supply you can use window boxes, planters and hanging baskets. By tending to these plants you will be investing in your own environment and improving your quality of life. As the great Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”
Get involved in community gardening projects. In 2013 a group of GP’s in Lambeth got together to create a community garden. By prescribing gardening to their patients who had long term physical and mental conditions they were able to show remarkable results. Recent studies all support this train of thought so goggle community gardening projects near you and get involved. “Gardening is medicine that does not need a prescription and has no limit on dosage”.
Visit other people’s gardens. Reap the benefit of others hard work and marvel at the beauty of a well tended garden by using the National Garden Scheme. 1000’s of gardens - all different shapes and sizes open their doors to visitors several days a year during the spring and summer- visit www.ngs.org.uk to find local gardens near you. To make things even sweeter, most offer tea and cakes so the perfect sunny afternoon treat.
Make use of free open spaces. As a country, the UK is brimming with parks, woodlands and public footpath. Even in the urban sprawl of London you are never far away from a green space, so get outside and make the most of them.
Research modern methods of growing herbs and edible plants using hydraphonics i.e without soil and give it a go - products for urban growing will be available in an IKEA near you soon.
Visit a Flower Show- Chelsea might not be an option for you but there is bound to be a local alternative that just might get those green fingers twitching.