Learning disability gardeners aiming for world’s biggest flower show

27 March 2024

A group of gardeners with learning disabilities are planning to take a show garden to the world’s largest flower show this summer.

The team from Furzey Gardens in Minstead have been accepted to RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to build a garden that will be seen by up to 140,000 people over the show week in early July.

Many of the gardeners have spent a lifetime struggling against discrimination and lacking in the opportunities that many other people enjoy.

This garden will allow them to demonstrate the horticultural skills they have built over several years working at Furzey Gardens, which is run by local charity Minstead Trust. The gardens have been supporting people with learning disabilities for nearly 40 years, where they maintain the gardens and raise plants for sale in the nursery.

The gardening team now need to raise the funds needed to create and build the garden. They are asking for support from individuals and businesses who can support in several ways:

Donate directly to the appeal at www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/hampton
Buy raffle tickets at the gardens or online to win a range of horticultural prizes
Sponsor the garden as a business.

Over £15,000 may be needed for the project, with significant material, transport and support staff costs required to undertake this ambitious garden build.

The show garden aims to help change perceptions in society towards people with learning disabilities. Many still feel socially left out and face stigma and discrimination in their everyday lives (Scior & Werner, 2015). Gardening can play a role in giving people purpose in their life and a chance to show what they can achieve.

The garden will be built between now and June and then transported to the show and assembled for the beginning of July. It is inspired by a small waterfall area next to Furzey’s popular lake area and features plants for which the woodland garden is renowned for.

Supported gardener Dave, said: ‘I like planting the seeds and watching them grow in the summertime. I am excited. I am happy to be involved.’

Supported gardener Liam, said: ‘I’m looking forward to heling all the other guys and staff at Hampton Court. I feel excited.’

John Davies, Minstead Trust support instructor, said: ‘This is a really exciting challenge the guys are taking on, a chance for them to show what they can do if given opportunities that are usually not available to them.

‘Many of them have been through really hard times in their lives and this is a chance for them to stand at the show at the end of this journey and feel really proud of what they have achieved. I hope people will support us so that we can change some minds around what people with learning disabilities can do if given a chance.’

Find out more about the garden or support the fundraising campaign at www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/hampton

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