Aiming to inspire people, communities and urban developers and set in the context of a high-rise apartment, the RHS Greening Grey Britain garden at the 2017 Chelsea Flower Show contains inspirational ideas for the future development of urban spaces, including some commissioned graffiti to adorn the walls of the urban setting.
But the installation is more about the health giving benefits of green spaces, plants and gardens and offers ideas aplenty to inspire community groups and individuals to improve their surroundings and make their space a better place to be. And maybe just maybe residential developers may take notice and implement some of the ideas into their new build designs.
“Gardens and plants are no longer optional and decorative ‘nice-to-have’, they’re essential to create healthy cities. With pollution levels dangerously high in cities like London, Glasgow and Southampton and flash-flooding devastating areas of the country last year, we all need to embrace the fact that plants help mitigate against some of the biggest environmental threats facing us today.” says its designer Professor Nigel Dunnett.
We need nature for our well-being
The Greening Grey Britain Garden, a RHS feature at the Chelsea Flower Show (23 – 27 May), showcases how and why plants, nature and gardens are needed more than ever in our towns and cities.
Set within an urban context of high-rise and apartment blocks, the garden focuses on practical and creative solutions for places where space is at a premium, including balconies, and other spaces on and around the tower blocks themselves.
“The benefits of plants, gardens and green spaces aren’t appreciated enough,” Nigel adds, “and I hope that by showcasing realistic, simple and sustainable ideas that are directly relevant to home gardeners, community groups and crucially, to urban residential and commercial developers we can make a difference.”
Nigel uses plants that soak-up pollution, as well as those which are drought-tolerant. The garden employs water-sensitive design ideas, such as rain gardens and wetland areas to deal with flash flooding. Nigel’s typical ‘low-input, high impact’ planting style is used throughout to deliver a long-lasting colourful visual display with minimal maintenance and high wildlife value. The garden is full of ecological ideas set within a modern and contemporary design.
Small space ideas
Large, multi-tiered habitat structures which mirror the human apartment block, also feature in the garden. These ‘Creature Towers’ provide a home for a wide range of wildlife such as insects and birds.
Other elements include bike storage, recycling and composting facilities, and edible planting, including a 2.5 metre long communal meeting table that integrates fruit trees and herbs in its structure.
“We know that gardens and gardening bring people together, and there’s now overwhelming evidence that they make us feel better and healthier. These ideas are central to the design. In uncertain times such as those in which we live now, where community spirit is deteriorating, and we are unsure of what lies ahead, there’s never been a greater need for us to engage with each other, and with nature.”, adds Nigel.
Tickets to RHS Chelsea Flower Show are still available to buy at www.rhs.org.uk/flowershows