THE EDEN PROJECT

I take an annual excursion to the Chelsea Flower Show as evidenced by my blogging throughout the months of April and May this past year. Lately friends have been asking for my photos and reports on the trip.  So here goes…
In the show garden category there were many thought provoking and stunningly elaborate gardens to speak of, but I’ll highlight the most socially redeeming – “Places of Change”, which was created by the Eden Project (creator of an equally special garden in last year’s show -  “the Key”).  This garden is a collaboration between the Eden Project, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Communities and Local Government (CLG), Homeless Link (HL) and approximately 50 homeless charities and eight prisons from across the UK.  The garden was built entirely by homeless persons and prisoners – a social investment program.  According to the Eden Project “The garden presents a series of achievements and aspirations from the people that are least likely to be heard and most likely to surprise us.”  Drawing on Eden’s “Growing for Life Program” --“it demonstrates how horticulture is the the foundation for so many opportunities, for example building skills, providing space for recvery, growing business and adapting to changing and difficult times.” Or as Landscape Manager of the garden Paul Stone puts it—“Eden has a worldwide philosophy of wanting to make people aware of the importance of the relationship between people and plants and the whole thing just ties in together. The overall theme is that horticulture is at the centre of life and from it come all the things we need. We can push that message home by involving the most unlikely candidates: homeless people and prisoners - amateurs who may be in the process of training or work experience – giving them an opportunity. We like to think of our teams as buried treasure, the ones that society tends to give up on, but here they are and I’ve got every reason, especially after last year, to expect just as much from this garden. “

Whereas the rest of the show gardens strive for gold medals, when asked if this is of importance, Landscape Manager Paul Stone responded, “Striving for excellence is the aim, if Gold is part of that then fine. We’re not classic gold medal material - our budget is being spent on people. I could buy lots of fine plants, but what benefit would that have for the people we are trying to help? OK, at the moment we’ve got people we’ve never met, who haven’t grown plants before, growing plants. It’s touch and go, but we are approaching it in a professional way and I expect the result to be comparable to the other gardens.”

Further information can be found on their blog
My pictures of the garden follow below, but first one of the many videos off their site which fully illustrates the redeeming value of this project.


There were a multitude of elements and areas to this, the largest garden plot at Chelsea.
courtyard
vegetable garden
the wishing tree - write a wish and affix it to the tree
my personal favorite - appliances turned into pots