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RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012 to Champion Community Gardening PDF Print E-mail

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 14:18


For the first time, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and Groundwork have united for the world’s largest annual flower show, to raise awareness of the extraordinary difference community gardeners are making to Britain today. Landscape designer and broadcaster, Chris Beardshaw, has designed the

biggest feature for RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012 (3-8 July), to champion the impact of this work.

The Urban Oasis garden, sponsored by M&S, was inspired by Groundwork and RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) projects that Chris Beardshaw visited across the country. It is a vast 1,600m² representation of the wonderful ways that neglected public spaces can be transformed into beautiful and productive community havens. With mature trees loaned by Majestic Trees, garden features include Derelict Space, Gated Alleyway, Community Allotment, Community Garden and Community Orchard.


Community gardening is very much of the moment and, through the Urban Oasis garden, both the RHS and Groundwork are keen to draw attention to it in the hope of inspiring even more people to sign up to projects. Despite council cuts and extreme weather changes, there has been a 10% increase in the number of IYN and Britain in Bloom groups signed up this year.

The RHS community campaigns engage more than 200,000 volunteers and Groundwork work in 98% of the most deprived areas of Britain. Together, Groundwork and IYN volunteers invest over a million days of community gardening each year, looking after an estimated 56,000 acres of public space, the equivalent of 165 Hyde Parks.

Chris Beardshaw says: “The green space around us has a fundamental effect on our emotions and behaviour. It’s well documented that in areas where these spaces are neglected there is strong evidence of social unrest and it is easy to see why when you stand in these spaces yourself.

“Evidence shows that access to green space that is looked after transforms peoples’ lives and plays a fundamental part in drawing communities together: as a consequence, communities see reductions in crime, stress levels and neglect and an increase in neighbourliness, community spirit, social mobility and economic investment to name but a few of the benefits. The important aspect of this joint initiative is that it involves everyone from every walk of life.”

More than 50% of recipients to an RHS survey said that anti-social behaviour and crime had dropped,  90% said the biggest impact was a stronger community and 40% reported their campaigns produced a safer environment. A recent Groundwork survey showed that 79% of people the charity works with feel their neighbourhood has improved.

After the show the gardens will be relocated to communities in need of urban green space in London, Birmingham, Ellesmere Port and Merthyr Tydfil.

Community gardening makes up a central theme for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year. Features include Social Deckworking, which was inspired by the need to encourage teens to get outside and socialise, rather than to shut themselves away indoors. Award-winning designers Anthea Guthrie and Nicole Burnett are showing how to convert wasteland into a community garden for Preserving the Community. Other features around this theme include Wheels of Time, in association with Southend Youth Offending Service, Falling Leaves and The Edible Bus Stop which, inspired by last year’s UK riots, aims to illustrate the benefits of green space and the idea of reclaiming forgotten and neglected spaces.

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