Chelsea Barracks Garden to live on after RHS Chelsea


It is always good news to know that a Chelsea Show garden will have a new life after the end of the iconic show, so we were delighted to learn that The Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by Jo Thompson for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show is being donated to the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI).  The garden will be permanently relocated at the Royal British Legion Village in Aylesford, Kent.

The garden will form the centerpiece of the RBLI’s new housing development, which will provide much needed permanent homes for wounded, injured and sick veterans.

Sponsors, Qatari Diar, will also be supporting two veterans, resident at the Royal British Legion Village, who are interested in pursuing a career in horticulture to undertake training and gain formal horticulture qualifications, enabling them to carry out the ongoing maintenance of the garden in its new location.

James Rudoni, Director of RBLI Living, is delighted with the generous donation: “It will be wonderful to have a garden designed by Jo Thompson at the heart of our new housing development, where it will contribute to the rehabilitation and recovery of veterans who have sacrificed so much to serve their country,” he said. He also points out that one of the RBLI’s core missions is to help former members of the Armed Forces learn new skills and improve their employability as they transition to civilian life. “We are extremely pleased that Qatari Diar is also providing an opportunity for two veterans to receive horticulture training as part of this donation,” he continued.

Founded after the First World War, the RBLI is a national charity supporting veterans returning to civilian life. Today, it provides support, care and employment for hundreds of ex-servicemen and women each year. The new development, where the garden will be located at the Royal British Legion Village, will comprise of purpose built apartments, specifically designed to support mobility needs enabling wounded veterans to live independent lives.

Designer Jo Thompson, is thrilled that the garden will be going to such a worthwhile home after the Show: “The Chelsea Barracks Garden will be a traditional British rose garden, reimagined for the 21st century. I very much hope it will provide ex-service personnel with a beautiful place to enjoy and a tranquil setting to reflect, as well as offering the chance for residents to get involved with a range of activities to aid their recovery.”

Jo’s inspiration for her design comes from the heritage of the Chelsea Barracks site in London – a former British Army barracks – with cues taken from the architecture and landscaping of the new development, which neighbours the Royal Hospital (where the Chelsea Flower Show has been held since 1913).

Roses, with perennial planting between, will be a main feature of the garden. They reference the Garrison Chapel, with its historic Rose Window, which is preserved at the heart of the new development on the Chelsea Barracks site.

A spokesperson for sponsors Qatari Diar, commented that given the important military heritage of the Chelsea Barracks site, the Royal British Legion Village in Kent seems the perfect home for the garden.

Jo is one of the UK’s leading garden designers and given her expertise with roses and perennial planting there is no doubt visitors can look forward to something special. Her style is established as quintessentially British with a contemporary twist. She was named a Society of Garden Designers ‘Future Designer’ in 2014 and is a member of the RHS Gardens Committee and Garden Advisor to the RHS Garden Rosemoor. Her public successes include medal winning show gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and events in Russia and Japan.

Jo has often spoken about the need for more female garden and landscape designers to showcase and test their talents in high profile environments like the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

We wish Jo and her team every success in the run up to RHS Chelsea.