JANE SLADE gives us a glimpse of the garden Chris Beardshaw designed for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show and which will become part of a new community project in East London
Distinguished plantsman, consummate designer and much-loved broadcaster Chris Beardshaw has considerable experience in working on community space projects.
His union with the leading global financial services firm Morgan Stanley, which is sponsored the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time this year, and which has over 40 years experience of helping to improve the health and well-being of children through philanthropic community involvement is therefore an astute collaboration.
Through the design of his garden which will become a major feature of a new community project in Poplar, East London, Chris has taken a holistic view of what makes a city garden healthy and in turn contributes to the rise of a healthy community.
The formal structures of the hedges, paths and walls symbolise the physical infrastructure of a community. The internal, interwoven knot garden creates a framework for the vibrant planting scheme, which denotes the social diversity within a community. It also hints at the ties of friendships and the rope knots used in the East End’s historical shipping industry.
Over the years Chris has gained tremendous respect for his original planting schemes and is aware that the plants are often the stars of the show.
This year he is championing independent British growers to provide the plants for his design. Having begun his own career in a nursery he is passionate about promoting the skills and expertise of some of the UK’s smaller, lesser-known growers, who he believes can provide top quality plants.
Hare Spring Cottage Plants based in South Yorkshire is currently nurturing a large number of show-stopping Camassias. Chris chose Camassia because the species originates from North America where his garden’s sponsor Morgan Stanley has its corporate headquarters.
Relocation to Poplar
The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities initiative is aimed specifically at children by getting them off to a good start in life through three key areas: wellness, nutrition and play.
With this in mind Chris spent time in and around Poplar and as part of his research met Sarah Castro who works with and knows the community well.
Sarah commented: “If you live in a flat or tower block and don’t have any access to any form of nature, the parks become your garden. People in Poplar love gardening and are crying out for spaces to grow their own vegetables and for places where they can interact with each other.”
The site in Poplar is at present a blank canvas in the middle of residential blocks of flats. Chris’s design will see the area transformed into a beautiful open space that he hopes will encourage communities to seize ownership of and use for community events.
There will be dedicated areas for residents to grow their own produce and areas for the children to play and learn. Local school children are already involved in the project by printing and designing decorative tiles that will be used in the final design.
Chris is very enthusiastic about the project. “My hope is that the garden stimulates generations of children when they are at their most impressionable because if we can stimulate them then, that feeling will never leave them,” he said.
Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw
Sponsored by Morgan Stanley
Built by Keith Chapman Landscapes
For information about the Chelsea Flower Show (19-23 May, 2015) visit www.rhs.org.uk
www.morganstanley.com/healthycities (below see map of Poplar)