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Life After Chelsea Flower Show For The Morris & Co. Garden

True to nature- the inspiration for so many of William Morris’s original designs as well as our own Chelsea Flower Show garden- the Morris & Co. Garden lives on. As the world’s biggest celebration of gardens and gardeners drew to a close, teams worked around the clock to transport flowers, trees and hard landscaping to a new home.

Sustainability found many guises in the Morris & Co. Garden; from integrating the work of various ancient craft traditions, to platforming talented craftspeople and William Morris’s 19th century designs. That’s why, when the hubbub and furore of Chelsea Flower Show had quietened, all thoughts turned to the next chapter.

And that chapter opens on Packington Estate in Islington, London. Why here? Well, thrillingly, it’s an opportunity to unite Morris & Co.’s latest triumph with one of William Morris’s first. Nearby at 64 Essex Road stood the Jeffrey & Co. factory, the printing company hand-picked by Morris to produce his first wallpapers in around 1862. Morris’s earliest wallpapers- Daisy, Trellis and Fruit- all drew from his deep enjoyment of gardens and the natural world. There’s a touching symmetry in resituating a garden which itself was inspired by wallpaper designs depicting nature, into a new garden setting for many to enjoy into the future.

A recently redeveloped 1960s estate, Packington is home to nearly 800 abodes, almost 500 of which are socially rented. Celebrated for being a community regeneration project which puts residents first, the people of Packington are deeply engaged at all levels of their community development. Residents declared their new estate was in need of a more vibrant and social green space. In collaboration with the local Arc Community Centre and Sixty7.Green Sustainability Consultants, the Morris & Co. Garden had found its new home.

Now, except for vertically, plants and trees aren’t exactly known for their mobility… so, exactly how do you move a garden? The answer: People Power. Dan Oldani of Sixty7.Green says; “We had over 200 volunteers participate in the planting-out of the relocated garden. Volunteers were largely drawn from the Packington Estate, however, we also had other volunteers who were so inspired by our story when visiting Chelsea [Flower Show] that they offered to help with the relocation. One particular story of interest, is of an individual who was in London from Canada specifically to visit Chelsea Flower Show and was only in the UK for 8 days, one of which he gave up to help with the relocation!”

And what of the flowers and plants themselves- how many survived the journey across London? Dan again; “We were able to transport and plant 99% [nearly 4000 plants] of the flowers and plants and about 90% of all the hard landscaping material that was used at the RHS Chelsea flower-show as the stonework and woodwork will be recycled to improve the community orchard and community gardens at the Arc Centre. This was key for the project which has a sustainability as well as a community skills building aspect. We have a good number of Arc Gardening Angels who are providing constant vigilance, watering and companionship to the plants that have a new permanent home! We also have established Arc Tree Guardians who will specifically care for the larger trees and ensure they are well-watered and maintained.”

As much as it’s about plants, it’s also about people. How have the people of Packington benefitted from having the Gold Medal winning Chelsea Flower Show garden right on their doorstep? As well as having access to a delightful green space, Arc Community Centre are keen to use embed the garden as a skills-building opportunity, where communities grow and maintain the garden with the help of expert guidance. Classes, hosted by the local community centre, help to compound growing skills in habitat management. Community ownership of the project ensures its longevity, and the 4000 native pollinator-attracting plant species certainly helps too.

Here at Morris & Co., we cannot be prouder or more pleased that the Morris & Co. Garden lives on. Plants and gardens naturally change over time, and with a little nudge, the Garden has found a new home where it can grow in new and surprising ways at the Packington Estate.

posted on 25 Aug 2022 in Events

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