The Power of Community Gardening

Friday 2 May 2014

Golden anniversary of UK’s biggest gardening campaign – RHS Britain in Bloom - to be celebrated at the planet’s most popular flower show











For the first time, a key theme of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014, sponsored by M&G Investments (20–24 May), is championing the power of community gardening. Research shows it creates stronger, safer communities; greener, more beautiful neighbourhoods; and regenerates wasteland across Britain.*

This year is the 50th anniversary of Britain in Bloom** – Europe’s biggest community gardening campaign, run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) since 2002 – and in April many of our 300,000 Bloom volunteers sowed half a million golden, pollinator-friendly sunflowers to celebrate.

‘Fifty Golden Years of Bloom in the South West’ is a floral spectacle in the Great Pavilion designed by Bloom judge Jon Wheatley. Many of the 600 Bloom groups in the South West contributed ideas to create a true reflection of Bloom’s story. After the show the display will be taken to communities in Scotland including Fife in Bloom who are helping with the build. In keeping with the Bloom ethos, the display will be made from recycled or donated materials and everybody working on it is an unpaid volunteer.

Nick Knowles, RHS Ambassador for community gardening, will launch the exhibit: “Jon’s design really represents the true character of Bloom – creativity, resourcefulness and passionate people. Most of the plants, like edibles and pollinators, have been kindly donated by British growers and the rest were found dumped in skips and brought back to life.

“It reminds me of my trip up to Liverpool where I was inspired by the inventiveness of the community I met who’d created a paradise out of nothing and began the project by planting up a bath!” said Nick. “We want more people to do the same in their own community so what better place to shout about community gardening than at the biggest flower show on earth.”

For the first time in 30 years, Alan Titchmarsh is designing a show feature, ‘From the Moors to the Sea – a celebration of RHS Britain in Bloom’. Alan has designed the feature with leading garden designer Kate Gould and it will depict the Yorkshire Dales and an Isle of Wight seaside scene. Bloom volunteers will be helping to build the garden.

The idea that community horticulture can enhance the lives of young people struggling with issues such as drug addiction and unemployment will be explored in ‘Reachout’ – a Fresh Garden commissioned by social enterprise New Ground and designed by John Everiss. The idea evolved from a discussion with young people living within a deprived area in Lancashire.

For the Discovery Zone in the Great Pavilion, Groundwork UK have teamed up with young designer Owen Morgan to demonstrate to visitors how everyday outdoor communal spaces transform lives across the UK and how everyone has a spot they treasure, whether it is a bench for quiet reflection, a place to grow vegetables, or a space to kick a football – a place that makes us happier.

Also in Discovery, the National Union of Students will be showing how college and university goers can grow, harvest and sell their own crops by engaging with the wider community. The ‘NUS Student Eats’ exhibit hopes to inspire another generation of growers.

Continuing the theme in the Great Pavilion is ‘The Techno Allotment’, by Leeds District Allotment Gardeners Federation. It will demonstrate to visitors how you can grow food in your community in a stylish, but cheap way, in order to highlight the joy and benefits of growing food in your very own allotment. The exhibit is a working allotment using materials and technical innovations, and the design team consists of five allotment gardening enthusiasts.

School pupils will be exhibiting on ‘Miracle Gro’wers Discovery & Learning Garden’ designed by Barry Holliman. The children have grown plants from seed and have created a productive vegetable garden. A significant part of Bloom, and community gardening, is volunteers engaging with schools in order to educate young people. Pupils experimented throughout the growing process with various treatments meaning they now understand how to grow their own plants in their community.

Cities across the UK are connecting with nature by breathing life into their communal spaces in order to create a cleaner and greener future. ‘Positively Stoke-on-Trent’ is a Show Garden designed by Bartholomew Landscaping and Stoke on Trent City Council that will give visitors a glimpse of how all UK cities may look one day with sustainable planting, woodland, grasses and ferns, edible planting and much more. Jo Thompson has designed ‘London Square’, a Fresh Garden, based on an elegant public space with trees and a place to sit.

To find out more about the power of community gardening or to join more than 3,900 RHS Britain in Bloom groups already involved, visit:  



Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Ed Horne in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3356 or email

*RHS Britain in Bloom Impact Report 2011:

**RHS Britain in Bloom:

History: The idea came from journalist Roy Hay MBE who went to France during the Fleurissement de France and was enthralled by seeing the country "filled to overflowing with flowers, shrubs and trees all in full bloom".

Bloom started as a way to attract visitors to the UK by the British Tourist Authority. In 1964 Bath was the first national winner. From 1964 to 1969 inclusive there was an overall national winner. From 1970, however, the competition was divided up into a range of categories, because of the difficulty of comparing settlements of different sizes fairly.

Tidy Britain ran Bloom from 1983 until 2001 when it was handed over to the RHS. Since then, Bloom has become a major campaign which brings communities together to enhance the look, feel and pride of a place. The RHS has increased the campaign’s focus on environmental and community-based activities.

RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood: In 2006, the RHS launched a new non-competitive programme for Bloom – ‘RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood’ (IYN) which has gone from strength to strength. Aimed at small, volunteer-led communities, such as youth groups, allotment groups or school gardening clubs, IYN is for any group just starting to green up and clean up their local area.

When IYN started there were 342 registrations. There are now 1,985. In fact, there has been a 20% increase since last year. The rapid growth of IYN is testament to how much British people care about the environment in which they live whether it be rural Surrey or inner-city Edinburgh.

Scale and impact: There are 3,900 RHS Britain in Bloom groups (including IYN groups) and we estimate there to be up to 300,000 volunteers that belong to these groups. Bloom is helping change both the socio-economic and physical landscape of the country. Recent research shows that on average, groups look after 110 acres of green space each (compared to just 10 acres in 2010). It is estimated that UK-wide, Bloom volunteers have transformed an area equivalent to 2,000 football pitches of neglected land, usually crime hotspots used by fly-tippers, into community growing spaces.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show (20 – 24 May 2014)
19 May Press Day
20 – 21 May RHS members only
22 – 24 May RHS members and non-members

20 – 23 May 8am – 8pm
24 May 8am – 5.30pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Venue: Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

To book tickets 0844 338 7546 or

Ticket prices range from £23 to £68. Tickets must be booked in advance
Images of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are available to download at
Please email the RHS Press Office at for instructions on how to create an account.

Full details of all exhibitors are available on the RHS Media Centre. Please visit  

To apply for media accreditation to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, please visit  

About RHS Britain in Bloom
RHS Britain in Bloom is the UK’s largest community gardening campaign, involving up to 300,000 people. In 2014, the campaign celebrates its 50th anniversary as Britain’s favourite gardening campaign. As part of RHS Britain in Bloom – and its sister campaign, RHS It’s Your Neighbourhood – volunteers in cities, towns, villages, urban communities and neighbourhoods work together to improve their local environment, using gardening as a tool.
To find out more, visit:  

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Latest press releases

About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262