19 May 2009

Designer Mark Gregory today celebrates winning a Gold Medal for the second year running at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2009 with a garden for The Children's Society.

His vision of a chic, innovative and eco-friendly back garden to complement the Front Garden he built in 2008 impressed the judges with its host of ideas for how the modern family can live well while beating the credit crunch.

The garden meets the challenge of the times with a recession-busting focus on recycling, water harvesting, space saving and growing vegetables without turning the precious plot into an untidy allotment.

Mark said:
"It’s has been an emotional rollercoaster. I am delighted to win Gold for the second year in a row for The Children's Society. I am immensely proud to come to Chelsea with a practical urban garden for the modern family and walk away with the highest accolade in the gardening world."

When putting together his garden, Mark tried to remain true to the spirit of "A Good Childhood", the landmark report of The Good Childhood Inquiry commissioned by The Children's Society. The innovative design is intended to embody some of the key things that children need to flourish.

The report called for families to spend more time doing things together, for adults to pass on their learning and values to children, for children to contribute to the needs of others, while eating healthily and to be given a safe place to play.

The garden tells the story of a family who are stylish, cost-conscious and very aware of where their food comes from. It features a compost unit and wormery where food and garden waste can be converted into rich food for plants - discreetly clad in environmentally-sourced Canadian cedar and topped with a bed growing herbs for the table.

There is a garden office-playroom so a parent can work from home while being with the children. Rainwater from the roof is harvested in a recycled tank tucked alongside, thus cutting the family’s water meter bill. The teenage children can learn how to grow vegetables in a compact raised bed edged with ecologically sourced basalt recycled from last year’s The Children’s Society garden. The garden finds an innovative solution for drying washing, lessening the family’s dependency on increasingly expensive electricity.

Floella Benjamin, the children's TV presenter, visited the garden and said:

"Huge congratulations to everyone at The Children's Society for another Gold medal winning garden - it's a fantastic achievement. Children and families are at the heart of The Children's Society garden with an elegant design that draws it's inspiration from The Good Childhood Inquiry.

"Childhood lasts a lifetime and we need to work towards inspiring children to appreciate nature and their surroundings. So I am thrilled that both the garden and the work of The Children's Society has won this recognition."

The medal came as The Children’s Society released the results of a survey of 1,000 adults by NfpSynergy which revealed children growing up today know less about where food comes from because the new generation of parents are less likely to show them how to garden.

Almost eight in ten (79 per cent) of older parents (aged 55-64) say they have gardened with their children compared to just six in ten (62 per cent) of younger parents (aged under 35). The results will fuel concerns that too many children grow up thinking vegetables come from the supermarket rather than from the ground.