Chelsea Flower Show

Family Monsters Garden in Swaffham and Chelsea

Helen Mark visits the Escape Project in Swaffham as they prepare for Chelsea Flower Show.
Helen Mark visits the Escape Project in Swaffham, Norfolk, to find out why a group of volunteers are helping create a garden full of monsters for the Chelsea Flower Show.  

These monsters represent the kinds of problems facing every family, and a garden is the perfect place to talk about them together.  The Family Monsters Garden, designed by Alistair Bayford, has been inspired by 'Escape', a community allotment which welcomes people to spend time outdoors to benefit their wellbeing and  especially their mental health.  Escape is funded by the charity Family Action which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.  The 'family monsters' theme is designed to start a national conversation about some of the family problems we may all face, but rarely talk about.  

At Escape you can plant seeds, do a bit of weeding, harvest vegetables and fruit, and make friends over Susan's homemade soup or pizza baked in the handmade, dragon-covered clay pizza oven.  Although if the mason bees are still nesting in the clay, you'll have to wait another week or so.  It's a wildlife haven and a soothingly busy, green place to be. 

Sometimes a volunteer (like Gavin) gets so hooked on gardening they take up their own allotment.  Volunteer Sarah has found she's become a bit of a celebrity because of the Chelsea buzz, and William is hoping the limelight will turn into extra funding to support the project, which has been a lifeline and a source of joy for him.  Team leaders Karen and Katy know that long after memories of the Flower Show have faded, they'll still be planting lettuce and purslane, with their green-fingered extended family.  Helen visits before and after the show to find out about its longer-term impact.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery

Kingston Maurward College wins at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Their Aritsan Garden won a silver gilt award.
Their Aritsan Garden won a silver gilt award. Joanna Jeffery is the Head of Horticulture at the college.

Local gardeners bag RHS Chelsea show gold

BBC Midlands Today

Garden designers from the West Midlands have won five gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The council's garden
Birmingham City Council

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) event is seen as the pinnacle for many UK gardeners.

Among those to get the highest honour is Birmingham City Council, winning their eighth gold with a climate change-inspired garden.

Other gold winners include Worcestershire-based Hardy Eucalyptus, Shropshire's David Austin Roses and the Family Monsters Garden, designed in Coventry.

'Plastic garden' ready for Chelsea Flower Show gold bid

Birmingham City Council is putting the final touches to its latest Chelsea Flower Show garden in a bid to pick up its eighth gold medal.

This year's entry focuses on the environmental impact of plastics and celebrates green spaces in the city.

Show garden
Cofton Nursery

The latest display, produced again by Cofton Nursery, has seen the local authority work with TV presenter Floella Benjamin, who was also part of the team behind last year's award-winning Windrush garden.

The council said the 2019 entry celebrated a year of "clean and green" community action.

Central to the display is a three-metre-high head (pictured, top), comprising of more than 3,000 tubes, which will be drinking water from a disposable cup using a plastic straw, highlighting concerns about micro-plastics in our food chain.

Show garden
Cofton Nursery
Cofton Nursery

A giant foot will hover over the display to remind people of the carbon footprint we are leaving on the planet, it said.

A road made from recycled tyres also features, and will look at how different plants can be used to remove toxins from the environment.

Chelsea Flower Show opens tomorrow for Royal Horticultural Society members and to the general public from Thursday.