Pennard Plants and Roots and Shoots celebrate Kipling's 150th anniversary

Pennard Plants and Roots and Shoots celebrate Kipling’s 150th anniversary

“This should really be the goodwill garden,” says Roots and Shoots Director Linda Philips of the Rudyard Kipling inspired garden the London charity is creating in the Grand Pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show with Pennard Plants. #Chelsea #Garden #Horticulture

“It’s built on many thousands of pounds of goodwill and generosity and very little money, £5,740 to be exact. Not your typical Chelsea garden for sure but it has been made by horticultural professionals who have put everything into creating something beautiful and memorable.”

The Glory of the Garden, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of Kipling’s birth, marks Pennard Plants and Roots and Shoots’ third Chelsea collaboration. Both previous gardens won medals.

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“It’s the soul of Miss Jekyll – pale yellows, blues and cream”, says Kew trained horticulturist and landscape architect Tony Danford who has designed the Edwardian themed garden. Wisteria, roses and vines clamber over the soaring Harold Peto inspired pergola, which divides the formal borders of foxgloves, delphiniums, day lilies, alliums, iris, peonies and other herbaceous perennials, from the business end – the potting bench and ‘cold-frames’, of the poem. Here the hard work of ‘..the gardeners, the men and ‘prentice boys..’ has produced perfect rows of onions, lettuces, beans, cabbages and potatoes. A herb planted potager, surrounded by a low box hedge, with a pedestalled bird bath in its centre, grows herbs for the table.


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The young horticulture students at Roots and Shoots are taught that ’half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees’. As Kipling explains, ‘…such gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful!’ and sitting in the shade.’

Roots and Shoots’ students are disadvantaged young people from the inner city and the opportunity to be part of a Chelsea garden is special: as well as gaining practical and social skills, they experience success and recognition, not part of life for many thus far. Explains Linda Phillips, “A garden has a place for everyone’s skills and abilities. Kipling wrote, ‘For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come’. This is a great part of the Roots and Shoots ethos.”

“Kipling’s poem says it all – the garden would be nothing without the gardeners!”says Pennard Plants’ Chris Smith. “Pennard Plants are pleased and proud to be working with the team at Roots and Shoots to create a third exhibit at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show. We always try to stage something new and thought provoking and I believe 2015 will be no exception. The design by Tony Danford, who has worked on our other two collaborations, is amazing and brings together a glorious English garden from the Edwardian period whilst emphasising the work and skill needed to cultivate plants to this high standard.”

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“To get a garden of Chelsea standard would cost many thousands of pounds, so we have had to ask a lot of favours to make The Glory of the Garden happen,” says Linda Phillips. “Tony Danford has designed the garden and planting plan and our builder friend Joe Maher and his team have done the construction.” Bord na Móna UK has donated all the organic peat free compost. Staff and volunteers at Roots and Shoots and Pennard Plants will plant the garden on site at Chelsea and students will welcome visitors and hand out tussie mussies made by the floristry trainees from flowers gathered from Roots and Shoots acclaimed Wild Garden.

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Steve Ott
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