Gardening is the Key
Gardeners across the world know that gardening is therapeutic, but our down to earth hobby is even much more than that. Through garden design, community spirit and the clever use of plants, one show garden at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show has a powerful message to portray.
The Key garden aims to portray the difficulties and barriers that homeless people face in the modern world. Designed by Paul Stone of the Eden Project with Architecture sans Frontieres-UK it maps patterns and problems of everyday life. "The story of this garden is that it is a journey," explains Paul Stone.
"The issues of homelessness are portrayed in the first part of the garden with dark moody planting. There are poisonous plants, spiky plants, dangerous plants and plants with attitude. The cut and thrust of the whole section of the garden is that it is a difficult garden; there are dead ends in it, there are pitfalls in it, there are choices to be made, good and bad. The journey takes you to a barrier that we call the story wall which has a poem written on it by Dean. Dean has experienced homelessness and imprisonment and it is a story of how he experienced these things. Like all of us that meet barriers in our lives there is a method in which you can pass into the final stage of the garden and the final section of the garden is intended to be a good social place with housing, seating a feeling of inclusion and all the things completely opposite to the first section of the garden." The paths in the garden are littered with keys, a symbolic message to the visitor. "Keys in the pathway are making the point that gardening can be the key to rejoining mainstream life. It can help the homeless gain life skills in horticulture and help them back into mainstream life," and the garden itself has taken this step too. The majority of the planting has been grown by homeless centres all across the country and the hard landscape is all made from recycled materials.
It's a fascinating mix of messages designed to make you think and a fabulous statement that needs absorbing, studying and understanding by all that look on.