The RHS and Eastern Eye believe that unity is fundamental for a strong and happy community, with people who support and care about each other at its heart. More community gardens in towns, cities and villages would reduce loneliness, help combat crime, create better air quality and impact positively on people’s mental health and happiness.
The RHS and Eastern Eye have joined forces to create the garden with award winning garden designer Manoj Malde, the RHS’ Ambassador for Diversity and Inclusivity, at RHS Chelsea, the world’s biggest gardening platform, to promote horticulture for everyone, everywhere. The RHS and Eastern Eye Garden of Unity will show how a community garden can be uplifting and accessible to all.
This garden is a tribute to the hundreds of community gardening groups where people from all backgrounds and all ages come to together to create pockets of nature and share their love of gardening across the UK.
Working with Eastern Eye, Manoj is incorporating elements to showcase Asian culture. A colour palette of orange & pink is inspired by his Indian heritage and the boldness of clashing sari colours worn by Indian women. He will also include marigolds used in Hindu worship and colourful spices will be set out on the table alongside little oil lamps (diya), which are used at festivals and religious ceremonies. The Garden will feature Asian fruit and vegetables to celebrate Asian households’ considerable activity around food and the kitchen. With his background in fashion, Manoj is celebrating the Indian artisan skills of hand embroidery and embellishment through scatter cushions and a kuba cloth that touches upon his African roots.
Shailesh Solanki, Executive Editor of Eastern Eye, said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with the RHS and having an Eastern Eye “Garden of Unity” at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year. Many Eastern Eye readers already are keen gardeners and we would like many more to take up gardening and also consider becoming RHS members.
“Gardening is part of the British Asian DNA and many Asians recognise the therapeutic values of landscaped gardens and growing vegetables and flowers.
“Over the last few years, Eastern Eye has been writing about the Chelsea and Hampton Court Palace Flowers shows and generally about the joys of gardening. Many Asians are property owners and gardening is becoming increasingly popular, growing everything from dhaniya (coriander) to beans, lettuce and potatoes to squashes, chillies and karela (bitter gourd).
“It became quite apparent during the pandemic that even a short time spent gardening is good for mental health. With the help of the RHS, Eastern Eye wants to encourage its readers to belong to the wider community of gardeners.”
Clare Matterson, RHS Director General says; “Gardening is a universal language. It transcends borders and cultures to bring people together in a shared endeavour to create a better future. It can touch many people in many ways throughout a lifetime: marking seasons, creating memories, celebrating life’s big and small moments, and teaching us patience, adaptability and resilience.
“It is wonderful to be partnering with Eastern Eye on this Garden of Unity designed by Manoj this year and we’re absolutely thrilled to be continuing to work with Shailesh and his team to share the joy of gardening with Eastern Eye readers.”
Manoj finishes; “As a child of an economic migrant who came to this country in the early 70’s, creating the RHS & Eastern Eye Garden of Unity has been a bit of a spiritual journey for me. It is everyone’s birth right to be connected to nature. It is good for our health and wellbeing. Community gardens play a great role in helping people to meet and interact with others, building new social and supportive networks. Gardening has no barriers, no social classes, no religion. When it comes to gardening, we are all equal and I am honoured and humbled to have been invited to create this garden that I hope will be enjoyed and used by all communities where new friendships will be made.”
After the Show the RHS & Eastern Eye Garden of Unity will live on to become a thriving community garden for people to continue to garden in and enjoy. Details will be announced in the lead up to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
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