Chelsea Flower Show

Family Monsters Garden in Swaffham and Chelsea

Helen Mark visits the Escape Project in Swaffham as they prepare for Chelsea Flower Show.
Helen Mark visits the Escape Project in Swaffham, Norfolk, to find out why a group of volunteers are helping create a garden full of monsters for the Chelsea Flower Show.  

These monsters represent the kinds of problems facing every family, and a garden is the perfect place to talk about them together.  The Family Monsters Garden, designed by Alistair Bayford, has been inspired by 'Escape', a community allotment which welcomes people to spend time outdoors to benefit their wellbeing and  especially their mental health.  Escape is funded by the charity Family Action which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.  The 'family monsters' theme is designed to start a national conversation about some of the family problems we may all face, but rarely talk about.  

At Escape you can plant seeds, do a bit of weeding, harvest vegetables and fruit, and make friends over Susan's homemade soup or pizza baked in the handmade, dragon-covered clay pizza oven.  Although if the mason bees are still nesting in the clay, you'll have to wait another week or so.  It's a wildlife haven and a soothingly busy, green place to be. 

Sometimes a volunteer (like Gavin) gets so hooked on gardening they take up their own allotment.  Volunteer Sarah has found she's become a bit of a celebrity because of the Chelsea buzz, and William is hoping the limelight will turn into extra funding to support the project, which has been a lifeline and a source of joy for him.  Team leaders Karen and Katy know that long after memories of the Flower Show have faded, they'll still be planting lettuce and purslane, with their green-fingered extended family.  Helen visits before and after the show to find out about its longer-term impact.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery