RHS Garden for Friendship

A Chelsea garden that promotes making friends through gardening will live on at an NHS Mental Health Trust after the show

Garden for FriendshipThe winner of the RHS Chelsea 2020 Garden for Friendship competition is Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership Trust. The judging panel, made up of Professor Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for NHS England, Zoe Ball, Jo Thompson and RHS Chief Horticulturist, Guy Barter, chose the mother and baby centre in Dartford as the place to re-locate the garden after the show.

It is intended that the garden will benefit new mothers experiencing significant perinatal mental ill health, as well as the staff who care for them. The Mother and Baby Unit Rosewood in Kent will have its garden revamped to emulate the unit's bright and positive environment. As well as supporting mothers facing severe mental health issues, Rosewood provides a safe environment for them to receive care while bonding with their new baby.

Garden designer Jo Thompson will re-create the garden, using plants and some landscaping from the RHS Garden for Friendship for patients and staff to benefit from.

"This Chelsea garden would offer a sanctuary for mothers to escape to during a time of crisis and create a new space in which to develop friendships. By developing the natural habitat, the garden would provide a peaceful, educational environment where mothers could enjoy the natural world with their children.

It offers mothers and babies a chance to experience the tranquillity that a garden can bring and provide a place that would offer inspiration, recovery and hope.

Kent and Medway NHS & Social Care Partnership 


The power of friendship

The RHS Garden for Friendship, designed by Jo Thompson, in collaboration with TV and radio presenter Zoe Ball, will celebrate how you can make great friends through gardening at the 2020 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Zoe Ball and Jo Thompson
Loneliness is a key issue in the UK today and the RHS and NHS will again be joining forces through the RHS Garden for Friendship to promote gardens and gardening for good mental health, which is something that both Zoe and Jo believe strongly in and attracted them to this project.

“Loneliness has a debilitating impact on both our mental and physical health with links to problems like drug abuse, eating disorders and depression.

Everyone involved with this garden hopes it encourages people to think about and care for people around them and consider taking part in community activities, like gardening, to create more friendly, happier places to live.”

Professor Tim Kendall, NHS National Clinical Director for Mental Health

Promoting greener urban spaces

Greener streets

The garden, a non-judged feature, will reflect an urban street and show how people can green up their front gardens, balconies, window boxes and community spaces – a great source of ideas to create more colourful, happier places that bring people together and are better for the environment.

“This garden will be brimming with accessible ideas that don’t need to cost much, like window boxes with plants that can be grown from seed, but collectively can make a big positive difference to where we live. 
It’s brilliant having Zoe involved, she’s such an enthusiastic gardener and we’re both excited about bringing this garden to life.”

Jo Thompson

With a recent survey* of 2,000 people showing that more than half of adults ‘enjoy’ being surrounded by greenery and a further 53% saying that it boosts their mood, this garden will encourage people to get together both for their health and wellbeing and to make new friends: some 52% of people in Britain said they have experienced feeling alone.
In the ‘courtyard area’, there will be a welcoming space where people can get together and get to know their neighbours. Jo and Zoe are exploring further ideas that will make this an entertaining space that could come to life at night with community social events.

Planting a window box
As well as roses, poppies, an abundance of edible herbs and delicious vegetables, there will bethere will be trees in the form of multi-stemmed Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis 'Sunburst' (honey locust)  and the lime Tilia × euchlora growing in the garden.
Zoe, a passionate gardener who regularly talks about what she grows on her BBC Radio 2 breakfast show, is looking forward to learning from Jo as they create the garden. She has shared with Jo some of her favourite plants to feature and ideas to bring communities together.

“I love the idea of a community creating green spaces, the perfect plot for meeting other folk whilst sharing plants and tips. I’m also thrilled to be working with the NHS to understand how gardening and growing is a positive step for our mental health. After meeting with the ace Jo Thompson, I can’t wait to visit the nurseries to help choose the plants and then, get digging!”

Zoe Ball


See where previous RHS and NHS partnership gardens are now:

RHS Back to Nature Garden co-designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and Andrée Davies and Adam White in 2019 will live at the Devon Partnership NHS Trust Dewnans Centre.

RHS Feel Good Garden designed by Matt Keightley in 2018, now resides at the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

*Study by OnePoll to 2,000 adults across the UK.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.