Jamie Butterworth, Garden Designer to the Gold Medalist Place2Be secures the morning gardensays this year’s Chelsea Flower Show was the “healthiest” yet.
Plantsman Jamie had a great success at the Chatsworth Flower Show in 2019, winning a Gold Medal, Best Show Garden, Best Construction Award and the coveted People’s Choice Award for The Wedgwood Garden. Jamie’s quadruple victory made RHS history as the first person to secure the highest honors possible in all four award categories.
But for Jamie, designing a garden in Chelsea is still an overwhelming moment. “We did the Chatsworth Flower Show in 2019, then Hampton last year (RHS Garden for a green future) and now this is my first at Chelsea.’
Jamie is used to being behind the scenes (his company Form Plants grows many of the plants used in the show’s gardens) and he said he only ever creates a Chelsea garden for the right reasons. He likens the experience of designing a garden in Chelsea this year to ‘impostor syndrome’ but was thrilled when Alan Titchmarsh and Mary Berry visited his garden and recounted the positive reaction he received from visitors House Beautiful Britain, “I can’t put into words what it was like.”
That Place2Be secures the morning garden provides a safe space for children and adults to take time to relax and talk. The garden makes Place2Be better known, a children’s mental health charity, and it was developed in close consultation with pupils at Viking Primary School in west London, where it will be relocated after the show.
“We wanted to create an intimate, safe space for children to have a conversation (with a child and a Place2Be practitioner)—it’s about facilitating and stimulating the conversation,” says Jamie. “Whether at the Chelsea Flower Show, at school or just in a regular garden, creating a sense of enclosure is really important. We did it in Chatsworth, we did it in Hampton, and this is the smallest garden I’ve done, which is really difficult because it’s only 30 feet by 30 feet, so there’s a lot of metalwork that goes into it segment the garden somehow.
“Inside, we used a real green color palette. It’s pretty calming. These kids live in a really deprived area of London, they don’t have space outside, so for me it’s about being able to do something that has a lasting impact.
Some students from the school visited the garden on press day, which Jamie described as a “special and heartwarming” moment: “The kids, just to see their reaction, that’s what it’s about.”
Jamie is incredibly passionate when he talks about why this garden is so important to him. “The only reason I did this is because it was so close to home and a charity I really care about. My mother is an elementary school teacher and my father is a mental health nurse and it combines these two professions very well. And actually I can do something good and I think that’s what Chelsea should be about,” he said.
Jamie, an RHS Ambassador, says the world-famous garden show can reach new audiences to make a difference for good. For example, Project Giving Back is a three-year program that gives charities and other not-for-profit organizations the opportunity to apply for a fully funded garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. This year PGB has supported 12 gardens celebrating and raising awareness of the work of charities, advocacy groups and educational programs in the UK. Each garden is guaranteed to be relocated or repurposed in a way that further benefits the cause or community it was designed for.
“I don’t necessarily agree with big companies that have had a surplus over the past year that they need to lose in a tax efficient way – that’s not what Chelsea is about,” Jamie continues. “It’s a place to spread a really important message and I think with Project Giving Back the whole show is a lot healthier than it’s ever been this year and that’s really nice. That’s what it should be about.
“Take Andy Sturgeon with Mind or Richard Miers with Perennial or the Mangrove Nine (Hands Off Mangroves by Grow2Know designed by Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Danny Clarke) and it’s an opportunity, it’s where you have a platform on the world stage – and it’s not often that we as gardeners have a platform on the world stage to spread a message to spread, and actually for me that’s a really important message that I want to try and spread.
“One in six children suffers from a diagnosable mental illness. That’s five in each classroom. It’s huge and we don’t talk about it enough, really. So that’s what I wanted to do here.’
• That Place2Be Securing Tomorrow Garden, in the Sanctuary Gardens category, was awarded a gold medal. Take a look at all 39 gardens (and winners) from this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
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