Centrepoint Garden for RHS Chelsea
Multi-award-winning garden designer Cleve West will return to the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, after an absence of seven years, with a design for homeless charity Centrepoint.
Supported by the Project Giving Back initiative, the garden will raise awareness of the valuable work provided by youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, exploring the notion of home with the design offering a metaphor for the challenges faced by young people when their world becomes uprooted.
Cleve has won six RHS Gold Medals and is the only designer to have ever won back-to-back RHS Best in Show awards. He is passionate about supporting and raising awareness of the valuable work done by the youth charity supporting and nurturing young people to enable them to grow and realise their potential.
The central structure of the Centrepoint Garden is a demolished and now ruinous house, where over time nature has taken over and begun to heal the scars. Within the garden, Cleve will use a hierarchy of native and ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and ferns as well as wildflowers and ‘so-called’ weeds. What at first glance may appear to be a dysfunctional and fragmented space is in fact a thriving, natural and evolving habitat, which emphasises the important role the garden plays in making a house a home.
The Centrepoint charity aims to give homeless young people a future and wants to end youth homelessness by 2037. A key to achieving this ambition is its Independent Living Programme, an exciting new initiative that includes the building of genuinely affordable homes for young people escaping homelessness.
After the show the elements of the garden will be repurposed at one of Centrepoint’s Independent Living developments. Plants and landscape materials will offer a constructive legacy of the RHS Chelsea experience and will be used to create a communal green space.
Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, said: “We are so honoured that Cleve has returned to RHS Chelsea Flower Show to support our Garden. His incredibly evocative design blew us away – I’m sure the thousands of visitors next year will feel the same.
“We are also extremely grateful to Project Giving Back and RHS for their support in helping us shine a light on the homeless young people who need us at this crucial time. This Christmas we know at least 29,000 young people will face homelessness and, with the soaring cost-of-living hitting young people hard, that number is sadly likely to be an underestimate.
“We want to inspire visitors of RHS Chelsea to support Centrepoint and help us to grow awareness of the challenges young vulnerable people face. RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the support of Project Giving Back, provides an unprecedented opportunity for Centrepoint to reach new audiences inclined towards nurturing, through their love of gardening.”
There is no doubt that Cleve will receive a warm welcome back to RHS Chelsea. Cleve’s respect and concern for the environment and all its lifeforms has inevitably led to a veganic approach to his work. He is a popular columnist in newspapers and magazines and is the author of two books: ‘Our Plot‘, celebrating a decade nurturing an allotment in Bushy Park and ‘The Garden of Vegan: How Plants Can Save The Animals, The Planet and Our Health.’
Cleve admits he was not anticipating returning to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show again after so many years but he so admires the work that Centrepoint provides he was delighted to accept: “I much admire the work that Centrepoint provide in helping homeless young people re-build their lives and I was keen to create a garden for them which shines a light on that valuable work. I also like the idea that gardens may play an important part in future Centrepoint centres for young homeless people,” he said.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from the 23rd to the 27th May 2023 and is sponsored by The Newt.
Image credit: Banner image of garden ©Cleve West: Picture of Cleve ©Reckless Gardener.