Always fancied a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show but can’t face the expensive trek to London? Get a taste of just such floral inspiration at this year’s Royal Bath & West Show, with six pop-up gardens sure to wow any green fingered visitors.
As with the real Chelsea, the gardens are designed by different entrants, including local charities. “The competition enables a wide range of organisations the opportunity not only to show their talents in designing and building a garden based on a specific theme, but also to bring attention to what that organisation does,” says organiser Nigel Cox. Entrants this year include Bridgwater and Taunton College, Thorngrove Garden Centre, Element Skills Training, Mole Valley Farmers and Dorothy House Hospice Care.
The gardens will all be professionally judged based on how well they meet the supplied brief, with this year’s theme being sustainability. Gardeners have a 3x3m plot to design before the show opens, so when visitors arrive they can see the finished result.
“The main aim of the competition is not the winning but the opportunity to show off skills and what can be done in a small space. It supports the rest of the horticultural village and the displays to be found there.”
There will be someone present at each garden throughout the show to answer any questions visitors might have. “Each one will show a different take on what garden design is about,” says Mr Cox. “Visitors always enjoy talking with the garden designers and will themselves gain ideas from what they see.”
There is even the opportunity for visitors to choose their own favourite in the Peoples’ Choice vote.
Hoping to scoop top honours this year is local hospice, Dorothy House, which cares for people with a life-limiting illness and can offer support from early diagnosis onwards, to improve patients’ quality of life as well as supporting their families and carers. Their garden aims to highlight some of the hospice’s therapy services and promote the benefits of living well, with early intervention in a patient’s palliative care and support.
The garden will be divided into quarters, symbolising four therapy areas available at Dorothy House including physiotherapy, creative arts activities, complementary therapies and occupational therapies.
The display will feature a vintage bike to represent the Dorothy House gym and staying active; ceramic poppies made by the Allotment Group members; and knitted vegetables, bees and butterflies made by the Sewing Bee Group. Herbs and sensory plants will represent the complementary therapies and a vegetable plot will represent occupational therapies like the Allotment and Cook Share Eat groups.
Dorothy House’s popular Coffee Clubs, which offer support and companionship to patients and families, will be represented by a coffee table decorated with vintage crockery in the centre of the garden.
Visitors to the garden can also get involved by writing a message on the Memory Tree, either in memory of a loved one or to list an ambition or dream they would like to fulfil before they die. Families can also collect a sunflower seed from the garden volunteers for children to plant at home.
“This garden has been an exciting collaboration between hospice staff, volunteers, patients and family members from our support groups,” says occupational therapist Lucy Burley, who is leading the project.
“The garden is a great opportunity for us to share the message about our therapy services and we look forward to meeting the public and showing them around.”