City allotment holders are preparing to take centre stage at Britain’s most prestigious horticultural show this month.
Open Doors, Open your Eyes is a garden exhibition at the Chelsea Flower Show’s environment section, and is the brainchild of Architecture Sans Frontieres (ASF), a charity based in Cowley Road, East Oxford.
ASF links community and international development issues to architecture.
Once the garden is complete, visitors will be invited to discover an urban space filled with plants, vegetables and ideas they can take away and use in their own homes or community, or even join their neighbours to create a community garden.
ASF volunteer Andy Edwards, 27, explained: “RHS Chelsea launched a competition to gain ideas for its environment section this year and ASF put forward to the idea of the concept of ‘Reclaiming the City’, which won us a plot.
“I have an allotment at Cripley Meadows in Walton Well Road with my flatmate Nick Scott and we approached some of the other allotment holders abut getting involved.
“There was a real buzz when we said we wanted people’s vegetables for a stand at Chelsea Flower Show, and they were thrilled to help.”
Wendy Skinner-Smith is chair of the Cripley Meadow Allotment Association.
She said: “It’s been a bit of a tough task – what with the drought, followed by floods, but we are all pretty keen to help the exhibit because it really represents what we stand for here at Cripley – recycling, reusing and making the best use of land.”
In the coming weeks the allotment holders will be harvesting roots, carrots, leeks, leafy greens and onions, which will be re-potted and taken to Chelsea for planting in the exhibit.
Gaby Topliss and her husband David have had two plots at Cripley Meadow for the past three years.
Mrs Topliss said: “If the Queen herself gets to see my tomato plants, then that would be very special”
ASF is no stranger to Chelsea. In 2009, the organisation partnered with the Eden Project in Cornwall to create the ‘Key’ Garden and ‘Places of Change’ Garden respectively, both of which received prestigious Silver Medals.
And in 2010 the team worked with more than 300 homeless and disadvantaged people on the largest show garden in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The Chelsea Flower Show runs from Tuesday, May 22-26 at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London.
For information visit rhs.org.uk/chelsea
THOSE INVOLVED: An array of artists and garden designers and suppliers from across Oxfordshire will also exhibit at Chelsea this year, including Crown Pavilions from Watlington, Hamish Mackie Sculpture from Hook Norton, left, and David Goode Sculpture, centre, from Oxford. Sculptor David Harber, right, from Aston Uthorpe will be celebrating his 20th year at RHS Chelsea with several new designs including the Quill, a soaring, tree-like work whose shape also takes inspiration from the Skylon structure from the 1951 Festival of Britain. Garden and Wood from Little Haseley, sell antique garden tools, painted garden furniture and garden ephemera, much of which has been restored by hand in their workshop. Last year Alan Titchmarsh featured one of their restored spades as his favourite purchase at RHS Chelsea on the BBC’s coverage of the show. This year among the more unusual items on display will be a pair of Edwardian glass cloches from 1910 made of copper and a collection of old RHS Chelsea Flower Show programmes ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s. Owner Louise Allen said: “We really look forward to Chelsea. It is such a great place.”