Putting Down Roots heads to Chelsea

For the past 22 years, Putting Down Roots has helped hundreds of people to build their confidence through gardening.

At regular sessions in Bristol, Leicester and London, clients can learn the practical skills needed to grow a wide selection of plants, including flowers, fruit and vegetables.

This May, the team had the chance to put those skills to use for an exciting new project – the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Funded by Project Giving Back, and designed by long term partner, Cityscapes, creating the St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden was a real team effort.

It took months of preparation to prepare, with clients busy growing on and looking after over 2,000 plants, and helping move them to the show.

The end result was outstanding, with the garden attracting thousands of visitors throughout the week. It even scooped one of ten Silver medals from the Royal Horticultural Society.

We couldn’t be prouder of everything our Putting Down Roots team have achieved.

Gardening for good

Cityscapes Director and Landscape Designer, Darryl Moore has a long history of working with the Putting Down Roots team. For the last 10 years, he’s been collaborating with clients to transform London’s neglected and underused spaces into a series of ‘pocket parks’.

He explains the vision behind the design of the St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden, and what having the garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show means to him.

How did you get involved in working with St Mungo’s?

“I co-founded Cityscapes, a non-profit social enterprise that transforms neglected spaces into places that bring people and plants together. We started working with St Mungo’s in 2012. There was a narrow alleyway owned by Southwark Council that was used for pretty antisocial purposes and it was becoming a real problem for everyone in the area. So we said, well, why don’t we create a garden there? If you show that a space is cared for, then people will respect it. The Putting Down Roots team got involved to help with the construction, and they still maintain that space today. We’ve been working with them ever since.”

How has your experience of working with our clients influenced the design of the garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show?

“It’s made me think about how spaces need to be inclusive, and how they need to create opportunities for people to engage. We want the garden to bring people and plants together, which is what horticultural therapy is all about.”

What are your favourite parts of the garden?

“We’ve used a lot of tall planters to create a sense of enclosure, so that visitors feel more immersed in the space. We want to encourage them to relax and really engage with the garden, and we also have a large pavilion with a circular bench where they’ll have the opportunity to sit and contemplate.

“There’s a big focus on sustainability too – using things like recycled products, reused wood, offcuts from stone suppliers and low carbon cement – and that’s been a creative challenge. Often when people think of recycled or reused materials, they think of something quite shabby. We hope the garden shows that, when you use them in creative and interesting ways, they can look just as good as new materials. What’s more, the garden is being

moved to a permanent site now that the show has ended, so it can be enjoyed for many years to come.”

What’s been most rewarding about being involved in this project?

“I think it’s really rewarding to have helped showcase St Mungo’s work on such a public platform. We have a long term, ongoing relationship with the Putting Down Roots team, so that’s really important to us.”

Finally, what do you think makes gardening such an effective tool for recovery?

“We’re so caught up in our frantic lives, rushing around everywhere and trying to do everything. But plants do things at a completely different pace. Some plants, like trees, are really slow growing. Some plants are ?annuals’ that appear for one year and then disappear. Others are ‘perennials’, which appear every year. So you have all of these different plants, growing across different time spans. And I think, when we stop to think about that, it puts our own lives into perspective, and makes us consider the bigger picture.”

What our clients say…

“Coming to Chelsea and seeing the Putting Down Roots garden has been a really amazing experience for me – it’s something I never thought I’d do. I came when it was being constructed and being here to see the final result is incredible. I love the colours and design.” Paul

“I’m enjoying every minute. The garden looks fantastic. Putting Down Roots has kept my mental health stable. It just clears your mind. The staff have all been brilliant – thanks for letting me come on this journey.”

– Jacqui

Find out more about #MungosAtChelsea here.