Chelsea garden to highlight families

To mark the 150th anniversary of charity Family Action and the 100th anniversary of green service provider idverde, the two organisations have combined to create a thought-provoking garden for families at the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden is designed to get people talking about the everyday pressures all families face but can find difficult to talk about and will be designed by Alistair Bayford who is also Operations Director of idverde.

The garden design incorporates native and non-native plants that will be predominantly green with flushes of colour and represent the diversity of our families. Birch and hazel coppice represent younger generations while a large, mature pine tree is symbolic of older generations.

A path through the garden will take people past boulders of varying shapes and sizes, representing both the pressures families face and the isolation people can feel when facing these alone. The birch and hazel coppice will create a partial enclosure, shelter and refuge to offer filter views in and out while the large gnarly pine (Pinus nigra) tree will demonstrate the history of an individual in a family, showing scars of life and symbolically representing the older generation in a family unit.

Planting will include Hydrangea quercifolia and Iris siberica ‘White Swirl’ as well as Nectaroscordum siculum and Betula nigra.

The local community involved in Family Action’s orchard and allotment project in Swaffham, Norfolk will be growing plants for the show garden as well as creating a willow sculpture. The gardening activities on offer at the ESCAPE project aim to increase self-esteem, independence and wellbeing of local people and families experiencing isolation, or who have disabilities or mental health conditions.

As well as designing the garden, idverde will be involving its own apprentices in the build, giving young horticulturists a wonderful opportunity to develop the skill and passion needed to create and maintain green spaces for decades to come.

David Holmes CBE, Family Action Chief Executive explains that the charity has been helping families face and deal with pressures for 150 years and the garden will reflect both their own and idverde’s heritage and shared commitment to helping families and communities come together in positive ways: “We hope this wonderful garden will encourage families to come together and talk about the pressures they are facing. The more we do so, the better we can all face the challenges of life together, rather than pretending everything is okay,” added David.

Alistair points out that for their 100th anniversary idverde wanted to celebrate how our parks and green spaces, biodiversity and gardens are beneficial for the wellbeing of families and communities: “Not only will this be experienced by thousands of visitors to Chelsea, after the show, the garden will be relocated to a Family Action site, ensuring it continues to benefit families and their local community in the long term,” he said.

Ideverde CEO, Doug Graham stressed how the mutual anniversaries are the perfect opportunity for Family Action and idverde to come together to demonstrate their shared commitment to stronger families and communities and the green spaces they rely on: “Our engaging, thoughtful and beautiful garden will put families and everyday family life at the heart of the world’s greatest celebration of gardens,” said Doug.

Alistair Bayford is a Chartered Landscape Architect with diverse and wide-ranging experience in the design, build and management of landscapes. He has won nine BALI Awards in the past six years and is no stranger to RHS Shows having designed gardens in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

We wish the team well and look forward to seeing this Artisan Garden with its important message for families.