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Power of community gardening shown to 650,000 flower show visitors PDF Print E-mail

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 20:07

Pic: Designer Chris Beardshaw - "an ambitious and exciting project"

Power of community gardening shown to 650,000 flower show visitors

The power of community gardening has been shown to more than 650,000 RHS flower show visitors this summer through a series of challenging Urban Oasis gardens designed by Chelsea Gold Medal winner Chris Beardshaw.

The last garden in the series, unveiled this week at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show, marks the conclusion of an ambitious partnership between environmental charity Groundwork and the Royal Horticultural Society to raise awareness of the difference community gardeners are making across the UK. The exhibit, sponsored by Marks & Spencer, will be on show at Tatton Park from July 18-22.

Beardshaw’s Urban Oasis gardens mark the first time a landscape designer has produced an exhibit for every RHS show in a season and showcase some of the most challenging urban environments where gardening, community work and good quality landscape design have brought people together and yielded powerful social benefits.

The Tatton Park Urban Oasis looks at ways of improving the space between streets of terraced housing. Back alleys, often used simply as a place for bins or hanging out washing, can – when gated at each end – have massive potential as community gardens. Previously dull spaces soon become havens where children can play safely and gardening clubs can flourish.

Elements from this garden will be reused at projects across the north-west of England, including the Atherton Road community garden in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. Currently an underused and neglected green space, the site will be transformed into an area with sensory planting and vegetation to encourage wildlife. Raised beds will also allow users to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

All the Urban Oasis gardens came together to form the 1,600m2 centerpiece exhibit at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and were inspired by Groundwork and RHS community projects that Chris Beardshaw visited earlier this year.

The Urban Oasis message is to challenge people to think about how they can get involved in either preserving their cherished green space or creating their own Urban Oasis.

Chris Beardshaw said: “It has been an ambitious and exciting project and I am really pleased to have been responsible for designing and creating the schemes to reflect the work of these two valuable charities.


“The project needed to be big to make the impact it deserves and make people aware of the campaign for getting involved as well as recognising the importance of the urban green space around them.

“Tatton marks the finale and I very much hope the great work achieved by everyone this year continues and that volunteers, professionals, businesses, local authorities, charities, politicians and the wider horticultural community help to grow the need for improving urban green spaces.”

Groundwork works in 98% of the most deprived areas of the UK and last year supported 850,000 days of community volunteering. The RHS engages over 200,000 volunteers who collectively invest 4.4 million hours into improving public spaces across the country, which is £155 million worth of labour. Together, Groundwork and IYN volunteers look after 54,000 acres of public space every year, which is about the equivalent of 165 Hyde Parks.

RHS and Groundwork research has shown that community gardening action in difficult areas improves the lives of residents and local businesses. Benefits include stronger community cohesion, which in turn leads to reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour. The health, wellbeing and happiness of residents is also improved through exercise and good eating.

A recent Groundwork survey showed that 79% of people the charity works with feel their neighbourhood has improved and over 50% respondents 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.

The RHS organises Britain’s biggest community horticulture movement through its Britain in Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood campaigns, which bring together 200,000 volunteers to make places greener and transform every aspect of community life for the better.

Groundwork has three decades of experience of working directly with disadvantaged communities to clean up and green up where they live. The charity works with community groups, housing associations and local authorities to improve green spaces for people to use.

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