Is there a neglected space in your community that you’d love to transform into a green oasis for people and the planet? Do you have a community garden idea that could bridge the generation gap?
This year we’re continuing to connect seasoned community gardeners with young green fingers in our 2019 Greening Grey Britain community support programme. The RHS is offering a number of community groups expert hands-on support, plus up to £500 worth of plants and materials. Imagine forgotten littered corners reborn as vibrant wildflower meadows, car parks lined with trees to slow down stormwater or disused areas becoming productive gardens, with food to share with the community. There are no ‘one-size fits all’ template, projects can be tailored to the needs of your area and the people that live there. We want to hear your bold plans to transform the places where you live!
Successful projects will be supported with a tailored approach that suits the place and people involved, with expert advice offered on all aspects – from planting plans to community engagement.
How to apply
Groups must either take part in Britain in Bloom (at a regional or national level) or It’s Your Neighbourhood, be registered as an RHS Affiliated Society or be involved with the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. Projects must be partnership-based and intergenerational, so applications should demonstrate how young people will be involved, as well as who else will be taking part.
This year we’re asking applicants to show how their transformations would fit in with at least one of the following themes, detailed below. If your project idea addresses more than one of these, please describe the connections and detail how it would work in your application:
Theme: Grow for people
Create a garden to help promote better health and wellbeing
Here are a few examples to kick-start your ideas: a sensory garden for rest and relaxation or a therapeutic growing space for people with specific health needs. In one funded project in 2018, Dunbar Dementia Carers Support Group worked with The Ridge to create a place of respite for people with dementia and their carers to reconnect with their past, with the help of Dunbar Grammar School. You could also take inspiration from Hammersmith Academy in London, where students partnered with a neighbouring drop-in centre for vulnerable adults and Hammersmith Community Gardens Association, to share the wellbeing benefits of gardening.
Theme: Grow for the planet
Create a garden that will help to address local environmental issues
Here’s a few examples to kick-start your ideas: a productive space with fresh, seasonal food to share and enjoy with others, like the Erleigh Road Community Garden in Reading that supplies local residents with fresh, organic food, minus the food miles. You could tackle low-impact living with the creation of a garden from reused materials, as this Sheffield-based intergenerational wildflower project did in 2017. Or a dry garden to cope with long hot summer days, in the style of 2018 Britain in Bloom winner Truro in Bloom, might be more suited to your area. If you’re in a wetter place, perhaps you could consider a rain garden to help reduce flood risk. Take a look at Will Williams’ design for RHS Hampton Court in 2017, which took its inspiration from the flood-prone town of Pickering in North Yorkshire.
The RHS Gardening in a Changing Climate report is another source of useful ideas and tips.
Theme: Grow for wildlife
Create a space for wildlife and to boost local biodiversity
Here are a few examples to kick-start your ideas: get some inspiration from Bloom group, Burncross Action Team in Sheffield, who partnered with schools to transform a neglected council storage yard with wildflower meadows and bug hotels. Or perhaps you could grow a butterfly garden and help these beautiful insects that are in widespread decline; or create a network of wildlife ponds as crucial habitat for a whole range of wildlife, from newts and frogs to insects and bats.
Our partnership Wild About Gardens campaign, which we run with the Wildlife Trusts also has some great advice.