It is the first time the horticulture trade charity has exhibited at the show and the first time Peter (or any Irish designer) has designed there. The garden has been made possible by the support of the horticulture industry and in particular Burnham Landscaping, who are constructing the garden at the show, CED Stone who are providing the hard landscaping and additional support, Oxford Planters who are providing the bespoke handmade outdoor kitchen and Hortus Loci who are providing all the plants.
The Perennial Garden at RHS Flower Show Cardiff is a modern urban private garden designed to increase awareness of Perennial, the charity that helps and supports people in horticulture. It highlights the importance of recognising and addressing poor mental health in the horticulture industry, inviting show visitors to look beyond the polished exterior and imagine what challenges its owner, or creator, may be facing.
Speaking about the garden and his decision to support Perennial, designer Peter Donegan says:
“In a modern world dominated by social media we can so often be fooled by an edited Instagram post or a gushing status update when many of us are struggling with physical, mental and financial challenges and burdens. Perennial helps people in horticulture manage and overcome the challenges of poor physical and mental health in an industry that demands strength and resilience. We are sure this garden will help us continue the conversation about mental health in the horticulture sector and spread the word that Perennial is here to help.”
The Perennial Garden has been designed primarily as an entertainment space with a balance of culinary features, seasonal planting and space to enjoy time relaxing with friends and family. It will have a clean, modern look and feel with crisp lines, contemporary design features and lush planting. A planted screen provides the backdrop to the garden, making the most of the small space and adding vertical planted interest. Specimen trees and a choice mix of seasonal planting complements the hard landscaping.
Anita Bates, director of marketing & fundraising at Perennial, says:
“It’s fantastic to have the opportunity to exhibit at RHS Flower Show Cardiff and we are extremely grateful to Peter for the unwavering support he has shown Perennial over a number of years. We are here for anyone working in or retired from horticulture, forestry and arboriculture across Wales but too few people know about us. We know that people can find it hard to ask for help and thanks to The Perennial Garden we can tell visitors about how they can support Perennial to encourage people to get in touch before their issue becomes a crisis.”
After the show, and continuing the mental health theme, the garden will be relocated to Veterans’ Growth in East Sussex. Veterans’ Growth runs horticultural therapy courses for ex-service men and women who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Established in 2018 by Jason Stevens, who himself served in the British Army, the charity aims to address the shortfall in mental health services for people who have served in the armed forces. Anita continues:
“Through the link with Veterans’ Growth, the Perennial Garden will come full circle. Not only does it offer us an incredible opportunity to talk to visitors about how Perennial helps people in horticulture across Wales, it will go on to provide a focus and learning tool for veterans who are having trouble readjusting to life after armed conflict. We know the positive impact gardening can have on mental health and are thrilled that this garden is going to live on after the show to help even more people who need it.”
1 in 4 people have a mental health issue in the UK*. Wales is suffering particularly badly, the rate of male suicide in Wales is above the UK average and we have a significant self-harm issue with over 6000 emergency hospital admissions a year due to self-harm*. It is clear the more we can do to help people suffering with mental health issues the better.
Perennial helps and supports anyone who makes or maintains gardens, parks, sports facilities and other green spaces. The Perennial Garden at RHS Flower Show Cardiff will help spread the message that Perennial’s friendly and knowledgeable team has the experience and resources to make a difference to people’s lives, regardless of the scale of their issue or concern.
*(Office for National Statistics, Psychiatric Morbidity (2007)
*(Talk to Me, Suicide and Self Harm reduction strategy for Wales, WAG, 2008)