If you follow horticulture, you know that the Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle of all flower shows. Thousands make their trek each year, like Islam’s followers to Mecca. I am included in the hordes who flock to London each May to check out the fabulous garden displays.
The Chelsea Flower Show, held May 21-25, was extra special this year, as it was celebrating its 100th anniversary.
The show is on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Each year, the show is built from barren land into the dazzling garden display you see during the week of the show.
Lesotho is known as the Forgotten Kingdom. The overall design of the garden is inspired by traditional features of Lesotho, in particular, the repetitive circular motif found in the landscape, buildings, hats and blankets of Lesotho, and represents the love and protection of the family in a country fractured by AIDS leaving many children vulnerable.
The garden was inspired by Prince Harry and his Lesotho charity, which helps educate people about a forgotten kingdom in southern Africa and Sentebale’s role in supporting the kingdom’s vulnerable children, many of whom are victims of extreme poverty and Lesotho’s AIDS epidemic.
Sentebale which means ‘forget me not’ in Sesotho (the language spoken in Lesotho), was set up in 2006 in memory of Prince Harry’s and Prince Seeiso’s mothers. The charity works in partnership with the Basotho people at all levels to provide health care and education to the neediest children; in particular, those suffering from the HIV infection, children with disabilities, orphans and herd boys whose livelihood limits their access to education. The ‘Forget-Me-Not’ theme will be an important part of the partnership and the garden.
B&Q (the UK’s leading home improvement retailer) will work with the charity to raise awareness in-store and online with customers and colleagues with a campaign that will launch around Mother’s Day in the build-up to the 100th RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Martyn Phillips, CEO of B&Q UK & Ireland says: “Through this partnership, we are keen to build awareness for the charity and underline the importance of family and community across all our stores. This is about bringing our Chelsea partnership to every community in which we operate so that families all over the country can celebrate the tradition of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in its 100th year whilst raising funds and awareness for Sentebale.”
Silver-Gilt-medal winner Jinny Blom, garden landscaper and designer says:
‘I came up with the design after looking at images of the landscape of Lesotho and noticing several repetitive motifs that seem to be specific to the country; the striated rock of the mountains, the exquisite terraces built for growing crops, the circular houses with their decorated earthen plaster finishes and the extraordinary blanket designs worn by everyone, man, woman and child, against the cold and rain.’
“Lesotho has a fascinating landscape and culture that confounds one’s expectations of what makes a country ‘African’. Lesotho’s climate is akin to that of Wales with which it is twinned, cool and damp, hence the need for wearing thick blankets. The garden at Chelsea Flower Show is a contemporary evocation of the mountains, roundhouses and wonderfully unusual blanket designs that are the national costume. I am hoping to express not only the beauty and rich culture yet also the inaccessibility and fragility of the country. Some of the native flora, such as Nemesia and Silene Fimbriata, will be known to British gardeners.”
Exclusive RHS podcast with designer Jinny Blom