Designs on a Greener Future for Communities

Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has partnered with national charity Groundwork to celebrate both charities’ work to get local communities gardening and involve more people in transforming neighbourhoods.

In a unique effort to mobilise people from all walks of life to get involved in making their streets, parks and neighbourhoods greener places to live, the RHS and Groundwork have devised a series of show gardens, designed by landscape designer and broadcaster Chris Beardshaw.

The gardens, sponsored by Marks & Spencer, are themed under the title Urban Oasis and will showcase some of the most challenging urban environments where gardening, community work and good quality landscape design have brought people together and yielded powerful social benefits.

The Urban Oasis gardens mark the first time the RHS has worked with a partner to bring an exhibit to every RHS show this season, starting with Cardiff,* a fitting tribute to celebrate Groundwork’s 30th birthday.

The Urban Oasis message is to challenge people to think about how they can get involved in either preserving their cherished green space or get stuck in and create their own Urban Oasis for the wider community benefit wherever they live.

Chris Beardshaw said: “The green space around us - where we live and work - has a fundamental effect on our emotions and behaviour. It is well documented that in areas where these spaces are neglected and poorly designed we see strong evidence of social unrest and it is easy to see why when you stand in these spaces yourself.

“Whatever the green need there is a solution and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to mean high cost - The Urban Oasis Gardens showcase design solutions which can make such a difference in people's lives.”

Sue Biggs, Director General at the RHS, added: “We are delighted to be teaming-up with Groundwork to champion the benefits of gardening in urban communities. A recent RHS report shows how important community gardening is to society and how the regeneration of urban areas is transforming lives and livelihoods all over the country. We need to shout about this, and what better platform to do it from, than our magnificent flower shows.”

Groundwork chief executive, Sir Tony Hawkhead, said: “We’re very excited to be working in partnership with the RHS on the Urban Oasis show gardens during our 30th anniversary year.

“The benefits of urban green spaces go far beyond those that you can actually see. They become a powerful catalyst for change - bringing people together to roll up their sleeves, get involved and take action to create clean and green places that act as community hubs and training centres, help to moderate the local climate and boost the local economy.”

Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A at Marks & Spencer, said: “This is an exciting partnership and a fitting way to mark Groundwork’s 30th year. We’ve worked with the charity for four years now and its employees and volunteers are often the unsung heroes of local communities. The work they do really does transform urban green spaces. We’ll be encouraging as many of our customers and employees as possible to get down to the RHS shows and see the gardens.”

The RHS organises Britain’s biggest community horticulture movement through its Britain in Bloom and It’s Your Neighbourhood campaigns, which bring together 200,000 volunteers to make places greener and transform every aspect of community life for the better.

Groundwork has three decades of experience of working directly with disadvantaged communities to clean up and green up where they live. The charity works with community groups, housing associations and local authorities to improve green spaces for people to use.

For further information, contact:

Garry Campbell, Senior Press & PR Officer, Groundwork UK
T: 0121 237 5811
M: 07703 535841

Ed Horne, Press Officer, Communities, RHS
T: 0207 821 3356
M: 0777 619 3226


Notes to editors

*About the gardens
For the first time ever, the RHS will be working in partnership to bring an exhibit to every RHS show this season, starting with Cardiff:
• RHS Show Cardiff: 20 – 22 April 2012
• Malvern Spring Gardening Show: 10 – 13 May 2012
• RHS Chelsea Flower Show: 22 – 26 May 2012
• BBC Gardeners’ World Live 13 – 17 June 2012
• RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show: 03 – 08 July 2012
• RHS Flower Show Tatton Park: 18 – 22 July 2012

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

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

About Groundwork
Groundwork is the community charity with a green heart. We want places to look better, streets to be safer and outside areas to be green and beautiful. We want people of all ages to be able to do stuff together to make the best of where they live. We want to improve job prospects by offering training and employment opportunities. We want to show people how they can make their homes and workplaces better for the environment and cheaper to run.


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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