Project Giving Back at the Chelsea Flower Show
Founding editor of Gardens Illustrated Rosie Atkins is chair of a new charity, Project Giving Back, which gives other charitable organisations the chance to exhibit at the world's greatest flower show
As the founding editor of Gardens Illustrated, former curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden and some-time RHS judge, Rosie Atkins has had a long and close relationship with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but this year her involvement will reach a whole new level.
Rosie Atkins is the chair of new charity, Project Giving Back (PGB), which is funding the design and construction of 12 gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and their subsequent relocation to permanent homes. “PGB really is a brilliant initiative,” she says. “Thanks to our two wonderful (anonymous) benefactors, we are able to fully fund 42 show gardens over the next three years. It is very exciting.”
Unlike the usual Chelsea model, in which a sponsor appoints a designer to create a garden on its behalf, PGB invites designers to conceive their own project and then apply for a grant to fund it. “Each designer must nominate the charity, community interest group or educational programme they want to work with, and we consider not only the quality of their concept but also the likely benefit to their charity of any press coverage, and what plans are in place for the onward life of the garden after the show,” says Rosie.
“Some of our designers are very well established, but we also have talented first-timers such as Charlie Hawkes, who is creating an extraordinary garden for Wilderness Foundation UK, and Pollyanna Wilkinson, who has designed an uplifting garden for Mothers for Mothers. Getting PGB funding doesn’t guarantee them a place at the show, because the RHS has its own rigorous selection panel, but once accepted by the RHS, we offer mentoring to ensure everyone makes the most of the Chelsea platform. It really is an example of creative altruism.”
Rosie is joined on the PGB selection panel by Alex Denman, former RHS show manager, Mark Fane of Crocus online nursery, and renowned garden designer Arne Maynard, whom Rosie commissioned to design a show garden for Gardens Illustrated back in 2000. “That was a wonderful collaboration as well,” she says. “Arne worked with Piet Oudolf, and the whole thing was done on a shoestring budget and masses of goodwill. The fact that it was awarded a Gold medal and named Best in Show simply underlines what makes Chelsea so special.”
Applications for 2023 funding are now closed. Project Giving Back will be inviting applications for 2024 funding in September 2022.
The 2022 Chelsea gardens supported by Project Giving Back
The Wilderness Foundation UK Garden (top image) by Charlie Hawkes
St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden (below), by Darryl Moore
Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know, by Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Danny Clarke
The Mind Garden, by Andy Sturgeon
The Mothers for Mothers Garden – ‘This Too Shall Pass’, by Pollyanna Wilkinson
The Core Arts Front Garden Revolution (below) by Andy Smith-Williams
The RAF Benevolent Fund Garden, by John Everiss
The RNLI Garden, by Chris Beardshaw
A Rewilding Britain Landscape, by Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt
A Textile Garden for Fashion Revolution, by Lottie Delamain