Celebrating community gardening at RHS Tatton

BBC North West Tonight and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have joined forces to bring a garden to the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show (21st to 25th July) celebrating community gardening.

The ‘BBC North West Community Garden with the RHS‘ is being designed by Manchester’s ‘Garden Ninja’ Lee Burkhill, providing practical ideas and inspiration for visitors to implement in their own communities while also celebrating the work of community groups across the North West.

BBC North West Tonight visited five very different local community gardening groups – The Wonky Garden, Cheshire; Green Heart Den, Cumbria; Liverpool Credit Union Garden; Great Harwood Allotments near Blackburn and Harrop Fold High School in Salford. Each group fed in ideas to the final design highlighting what they believe are important elements to have in a community garden from growing cut flowers and fruit and vegetables to having a space to socialise.

Lee points out that it’s important to create an achievable community garden design with key elements drawn from local community gardening projects whether its growing food in urban areas, socialising in groups outdoors, learning about horticulture, tending to an orchard or encouraging wildlife: “I hope visitors take away inspiration to start growing their own fruit, vegetables or plants in even the smallest spaces, and for new gardeners to get involved in local community gardens while also using upcycled and reclaimed materials in garden spaces to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Lee.

The garden also needs to be sustainable and Lee will be using reclaimed scaffold boards as a key part of the design and porous paving for rainwater absorption. This reduces flood risks and reduces CO2 footprint.

After the show the plants and materials will go back to the RHS who will be donating them to Wharton and Cleggs Lane Church and Community Centre Garden in Little Hulton, one of the many local community gardening groups which are being supported by the RHS Community Gardening team in the North West.

Lee (pictured above) is delighted to be able to use his design skills to shine a light on community gardens as he pointed out to Reckless Gardener: “These groups act as a hub for both greening up our urban spaces but also providing social support for a myriad of different groups. They are spaces not only to learn and grow but to help provide mental health refuges in our demanding lives. I want my design at RHS Tatton to help bring people together and inspire new tentative gardeners to take the plunge. So they too can realize the benefits of gardening. By using low-cost reclaimed materials, homegrown plants and some clever design ideas I aim to show that it’s not the size of your budget that makes a garden a success but your imagination,” said Lee.

This year’s show will see a number of other community groups creating gardens including homelessness charity Petrus Community. There are also ten Community Borders offering an opportunity to showcase small-scale planting designs as well as giving different local groups, designers and horticultural enthusiasts the chance to display their skills at an RHS Show. (pictured left: Lee’s drawing of the design – he hand draws and renders all his own designs.)

Lee is a multi-award-winning designer and blogger who has recently joined the team on BBC’s Garden Rescue. His blog has won him a number of awards including the RHS & BBC Feel Good Gardens Winner 2016. In 2018 he was awarded the Chelsea Flower Show Director General’s Trade Stand Award. Lee also runs a very successful YouTube channel.

We wish Lee and the team every success in their preparations for the run-up to the show.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park runs from 21st to 25th July, for tickets and information please visit: www.rhs.org.uk/tatton

For more information please visit Lee’s website at:

Lee’s YouTube channel can be found at:


Photo credits: All images strictly ©Lee Burkhill