With just days to go until the opening of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, staff and clients from leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s are busy adding the final touches to its impressive ‘Putting Down Roots Garden’.
St Mungo’s, which supports people to recover from homelessness across London and the South of England, has been given the opportunity to create one of the world-famous event’s main ‘show gardens’ thanks to the generous funding of Project Giving Back.
The St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden is designed by landscape design studio Cityscapes, and continues the two organisations’ partnership to support people with experience of homelessness to develop their confidence, learn new skills and rebuild their lives through horticultural training.
Students of the Putting Down Roots programme – who all have lived experience of homelessness – have been working alongside St Mungo’s Garden Trainers and Cityscapes to grow and maintain plants for the garden over the past few months, across the charity’s training sites in London and Bristol.
Since breaking ground in April, the team has been on-site building and planting the garden, which will be located on the prestigious Main Avenue and open to the public from 24 May to 28 May 2022. The garden has been fully funded by Project Giving Back at no cost to St Mungo’s.
Rebecca Sycamore, St Mungo’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “We are all so excited to see the garden coming together in all its colourful glory. RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an incredible opportunity for us to showcase out Putting Down Roots programme and raise awareness of the services we provide for people as they recover from homelessness.
“The garden is such a positive thing for us all following the tragic and unexpected death of our CEO Steve Douglas CBE just a few weeks ago.
“Steve was so passionate about this project and us showing the world what amazing things our clients can achieve.
“He would be so proud, and this is just a small part of the legacy he leaves.”
Matt Woodruff, St Mungo’s Horticultural Skills Manager, who runs the charity’s Putting Down Roots programme, said: “Our clients have really enjoyed being involved in preparing the garden and they have gained so much from being involved – it has been wonderful to watch.
“They are able to now see the fruits of their work coming together. It’s such an achievement that is having a powerful impact on their confidence and wellbeing.”
Darryl Moore, Cityscapes Director and co-founder, said: “We’re well on the way to getting the garden finished and the bright colours are certainly attracting attention already!
“It is exciting that in less than a week we’ll have more than a hundred thousand people visiting our garden. And we want to welcome as many people as possible to come along and learn more about the garden’s sustainability and the work of St Mungo’s.”
The garden is an ‘urban pocket park’ that highlights the personal, social, health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces in a city environment.
Made entirely from recycled materials, the design focuses on creating a safe and immersive experience for users through enclosed planters, textural foliage and floral accents of colour.
A pavilion and seating area provides opportunities for reflection and respite from the pressures of city life.
St Mungo’s has been running Putting Down Roots for 21 years and has gardens in London, Bristol and Leicester.
The innovative, award-winning programme is entirely voluntarily funded, and provides vocational horticultural training to support people as they recover from homelessness and develop vital skills for employment.
During the last few years, the project has developed a number of successful ‘training gardens’, creating opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to undertake accredited qualifications and improve their wellbeing.
St Mungo’s and Cityscapes have worked together for 10 years, designing a series of ‘pocket parks’ and horticultural projects around London which are maintained by people from Putting Down Roots.