HMP Hull in East Yorkshire has been judged the best kept prison garden in England and Wales by the RHS and awarded the Windlesham Trophy for the first time for its efforts.
Named after its creator, Lord Windlesham, the annual award seeks to recognise the value of gardening within prison communities with 18 prisons entering the competition this year.
Supporting the local community
Housing more than 1,000 men, HMP Hull uses its gardens for prisoner rehabilitation and training, many have achieved formal qualifications and support the local community. Every week, fresh produce is harvested for the prison kitchen with the surplus, enough for 50 people, donated to a local food bank. Crops such as lettuce, onions and beetroot help in supplementing diets in an area with high levels of obesity and diabetes. Bird boxes made by prisoners were also recently distributed to nearby schools.
The garden, which is tended to by a 20-strong team of prisoners, also includes wildflower areas, bug hotels and bat boxes to attract wildlife, a memorial garden for staff, and a colourful display of 10,000 bedding plants including African marigolds to welcome visitors.
Attention to detail with consistently high horticultural standards
An RHS judging panel, led by Robert Haslam with Fiona Crumley and Jon Wheatley, assessed HMP Hull along with the three other finalists; HMP Dartmoor in Devon, HMP Preston and HMP Wymott.
RHS judge Robert Haslam said: “Congratulations to HMP Hull on an outstanding performance. Their attention to detail was instantly obvious with consistently high horticultural standards met across all areas of the garden. The wonderful team spirit displayed from management through to the prisoners was incredible.”
Governor of HMP Hull, Rick Stuart said: “The fantastic oasis that the team have created demonstrates what can be achieved if people want to make it happen. It goes a long way to giving prisoners a sense of community, normality and provides staff with a far better working environment. I am extremely proud of them and what they have achieved, and for making our workplace that little bit nicer for all of us who work and live here.”