Amid stories of thousands of plants going to waste following the cancellation of RHS shows including Chelsea Flower Show, the good news story demonstrates what can happen when people come together on social media.
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Please share as widely as you can. Please tag growers, garden designers, nurseries, especially in the South West. Please screenshot and put in your stories. Text people who could help. . We are in a time where everything has changed. Suddenly, almost overnight, everything has changed. What has not changed is the need the human race has for nature and for beauty, for compassion and connection. . In a light well of a Plymouth hospital is a garden. It was designed to help the rehabilitation and recovery of patients in ICU, but there is now a more pressing, urgent need. Doctors and nurses are preparing for the fight of their lives, preparing for the flood of people who need, quite literally, the highest levels of intensive care. They will try, with everything they have, to save as many lives as they can. They already know it will be the challenge of their generation. The demands on them will be superhuman. The garden will now be devoted to them, a resilience space. A place under the open sky, where they can be amongst plants and flowers, to feel fresh air and to care for each other. . The RHS shows are cancelled. I know that there are garden designers, growers and nurseries that have devoted their skills, time and attention to growing the most perfect plants for these incredible events. The Chelsea plants, the best of the best, are on track for peak beauty in May. They now have nowhere to go. There will be beautiful, exquisite pieces of furniture. By May, the nurses, doctors, and support staff will be exhausted. By us giving them a garden now, it will bloom when they need it most. We have very little time. Myself and one of the ICU nurses, Kate Tantam, will have access to the garden this weekend for a very brief window to make as much difference as we can. . Do you have lots of plants? Benches, tables? Arches for sweet peas? Can you get them to Derriford Hospital on Sunday? You will not be able to enter the hospital, but Kate and I will take whatever you have and I promise to plant it with love and care. . ICU will save lives. This garden will save souls. . Photo by @likesnicephotos
In response, garden designer Tom Massey, who is responsible for designing the Yeo Valley garden at Chelsea 2020 – the first ever show garden grown on organic principles – contacted Grace to say that she could have the plants they had grown.
Johnsons Sweet Peas also donated plants for the seating area in the garden and by March 22 a Chelsea Show Garden was installed in the garden of the intensive care unit at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.
Grace said: “I think what helped was that I had a clear steer from Kate Tantam (ICU nurse) who said that if we did not get it done in three days, it would not happen because she knew that further lockdown measures would be put in place for the hospital.”
Tom said: “The Yeo Valley Organic Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was going to be a bright and colourful haven for wildlife, with lots of scented and flowering plants. The planting was going to be very naturalistic and meadow like, with a wide range of species. The planting will be looking at its best in May, when the virus is predicted to be at its peak. I hope the planting provides a lift for the tireless NHS staff and helps them keep going through these incredibly difficult times.”
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Was it you? Was it your share, your message, your like, that spread the word? . Somehow, in twenty four hours, a seemingly impossible and utterly wonderful task has been achieved. For the staff of Derriford Intensive Care Unit, who are facing a challenge that you and I cannot even really imagine, will have their very own Chelsea show garden in their resilience space on Sunday afternoon. . I cannot even begin to thank all of you that got the message out, which somehow reached the eyes and ears of @tommasseyuk, who asked @yeovalley, who gave something so precious to those who need it now. A garden of exquisite meadow plants, organically and sustainably grown by the heroes that are @hortusloci, will be delivered to the doors of the hospital by Hortus Loci themselves, and planted on behalf of Yeo Valley by the head gardener of @yeovalleyorganicgarden, me, Tom and a group of volunteers from Derriford's ICU team (in between shifts). You shared and liked and commented to make this happen, now please do the same to say THANK YOU for the incredible incredible generosity of these people. . The NHS motto right now is #1bigteam. I am so proud (and totally overly emotional) that, for one day on Sunday, me, @tommasseyuk, @yeovalley, & @Hortusloci will be contributing to that team. I will be sharing the planting up here and on stories, but I am warning you, I am probably going to cry a bit. (Photo of me looking joyously happy by @likesnicephotos. It seemed appropriate)
Flowers included in the selection are: Nepeta (Catmint) and thyme species and colourful poppies, geraniums, aquilegias and salvia species, ornamental grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa and Melica altissima ‘Alba’.
Many of the RHS’s shows have now been cancelled or postponed, but the RHS is planning a Virtual Chelsea Flower Show, which will run over the same dates Chelsea was due to run in May.