Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s celebrates a successful week at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, after its impressive Putting Down Roots Garden attracted royal, celebrity and public attention.
Designed by Cityscapes and entirely funded by Project Giving Back, the garden showcased St Mungo’s horticultural training programme that supports people with experience of homelessness to develop their confidence, learn new skills and rebuild their lives through gardening.
More than 140,000 people visited RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, with many stopping by the St Mungo’s garden to learn more about the therapeutic and employability benefits of gardening.
The week opened with Carol Kirkwood delivering her BBC Breakfast weather report from the bold and colourful garden on the morning of Monday 23rd May.
St Mungo’s then welcomed a host of stars including Dame Joanna Lumley, Phillip Schofield, Deborah Meaden, Grayson Perry and Ainsley Harriott.
The charity’s Royal Patron HRH The Duke of Kent later visited the space, where he met the charity’s Horticultural Services Manager Matt Woodruff, the Garden Designer Darryl Moore, Director of the St Mungo’s Recovery College Adam Rees, and a client of the Putting Down Roots Programme. The Queen herself even requested a stop off at the garden in her new Royal Golf Buggy.
On Tuesday 24th it was announced that the garden had been awarded a Silver Medal in the Show Garden category.
This was followed by an evening event where St Mungo’s invited supporters, major donors and special guests to have an after-hours look at the garden.
Rebecca Sycamore, St Mungo’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “It has been a phenomenal experience for everyone involved with RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and has given the whole organisation a boost after a challenging few weeks.
“We’ve had such enthusiastic feedback from visitors about Cityscapes’ vibrant and uplifting design, as well as the inspiring stories of the clients who have been working on the garden.
“And we can’t thank Project Giving Back enough for giving us a platform to raise awareness around our services.”
It follows a difficult period for St Mungo’s after the tragic and unexpected death of its Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE.
“The garden embodies the hard work and collaboration between our clients, staff and volunteers – Steve would be so proud,” Ms Sycamore said.
Alongside its bright colours and moving story, the garden also drew attention for its fencing made from upcycled scaffolding boards and paving featuring off-cut materials from previous RHS Chelsea Flower Shows.
Matt Woodruff, St Mungo’s Horticultural Skills Manager, who runs the charity’s Putting Down Roots programme, said: “Our clients were on-site all week chatting with members of the public about the plants they’ve grown, the skills they’ve learnt and how proud they feel to be at Chelsea.
“Their confidence has sky-rocketed from hearing how much visitors love it.
“Now we can’t wait to see how local communities engage with the garden once it is relocated to its new homes by Guy’s Hospital and Southwark Crown Court.”
Later in the week Ellie Goulding and Ian Hislop visited the garden to pledge support for St Mungo’s services, followed by evening event on Thursday 26th for the charity’s corporate partners.
The garden also caught the eye of the media, which was featured multiple times on the BBC RHS Coverage, as well as on BBC London News and BBC Morning Live, which highlighted the story of St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots client Jacqui.
Jacqui said: “Putting Down Roots has really helped me with my mental health. My mood is much better and I feel much calmer. It’s transformed my life.
“Being at RHS Chelsea Flower Show is unbelievable. I’ve loved every second of the journey.”
National publications including Financial Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian featured the garden, while specialist homes and gardening titles including Country Life Magazine, Horticulture Week and Homes Beautiful also covered the story.
At the garden’s new permanent sites in South London, the urban pocket parks will be an inviting and accessible space for the public to use.
St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots students will continue to maintain the gardens as they develop their horticultural skills and enjoy the benefits of being outside and building their confidence through gardening.