RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023

28th April 2023

We are delighted to be taking place in this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – May 22nd to 27th 2023 with the Silver Medal-winning Doorstep Library – Words Take You Places garden.

Gini Denison-Pender, founder of landscape and design company Beautiful Wild contacted us with the wonderful idea of creating a balcony garden for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show using Doorstep Library’s aims and ethos as inspiration. The garden, which brings together a number of collaborators, aims to highlight the power of reading and the imagination, as well as the exotic journeys that books can take you on.  It also aims to reflect the rainforest, highlighting the importance of nature and encouraging us to educate young people about the value of these spaces.  The balcony garden (so designed as if sitting on a balcony outside a flat or home) – is titled:  Doorstep Library – Words Take You Places 

The garden illustrates the power of stories to help us learn about our world and feel inspired to protect it. Inside the timber-framed garden is a cushioned window seat, just large enough for two, surrounded by gentle and delicately textured planting in shades of green with occasional moments of colour, books about nature and hand-drawn maps. Our reader has left behind on the window seat the rainforest tales she was reading to her young child, and we look through the window into the richly planted world of their imagination.

The garden supports Doorstep Library’s work, reflecting our journey into the homes of children who need our support.  Through reading we open young people’s eyes to the wonder and magic of books, inspiring them to love reading for themselves and giving those children a better chance in life and a greater awareness of the world around them.

“This garden is about the joy of reading because storytelling is the best way of learning and education is essential in our race to protect the natural world. And the theme of the stories in the ‘Doorstep Library – Words Take You Places’ garden is the rainforests of the world, because they are so vital to life on earth.”

Gini Denison-Pender, Beautiful Wild

When the Show has finished the garden will be relocated to the Loughborough Community Centre in Brixton where families can continue to enjoy reading and experience many more journeys of imagination.  Where plants cannot grow we will fill the window seat space with a wonderfully colourful mural painted by the fabulous artist – Holly Thomas. Holly has worked with Doorstep Library before and her illustrations are fun, child-like and perfect for bridging the space between the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and a longer term installation for everyone to enjoy.

“We are delighted to be part of this wonderful collaboration and for our work to be the inspiration for such a beautiful space.  We always encourage the families we visit to create reading time and reading spaces and this amazing balcony garden brings both of those concepts together. We hope that the garden will inspire both visitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and later at the Max Roach LLC, to create plant-filled reading nooks on their own balconies or gardens where they too can retreat to read and dream.

Katie Bareham, CEO Doorstep Library

Throughout the week a number of authors will be present on the garden, to talk about their books and share thoughts about how books can help children to learn more about the natural world.  The books have been curated by Ultimate Library, especially for the Show and we will be featuring one a day.  Each of the non-fiction children’s books has a connection to the garden with themes which cover the exploration of plants through to sustainability.  We are also delighted to welcome Thomas Mogfurd author of the historical novel The Plant Hunter (a story of plants) to the garden.

Authors

Dr Chris Thorogood

When Plants Take Over The Planet

Dr Chris Thorogood  and illustrated by  Amy Grimes
Published by: Quarto
@illustratingbotantis | @hellogrimes

This large-format, highly illustrated book will guide readers through the key aspects of the life of plants, from early ferns which were most certainly munched on by dinosaurs, to carnivorous plants that snap and ‘attack’ their prey, or powerful medicinal plants that can heal ailments and boost health.

Leisa Stewart Sharpe

What A Wonderful World

Leisa Stewart Sharpe  and illustrated by  Lydia Hill
Published by: Templar
@leisastewartsharpe | @lydiakahill

Our world is WONDERFUL – and it’s worth protecting. This book takes you on a breathtaking tour of our planet – from towering mountaintops, through grasslands, jungles, rivers, deserts, polar wildernesses and into the blue ocean – to discover the incredible variety of life that calls it home

Thomas Mogford

The Plant Hunter

Thomas Mogford
Published by: Welbeck Publishing Group
@ThomasMogford
1867. King’s Road, Chelsea, is a sea of plant nurseries, catering to the Victorian obsession with rare and exotic flora. But each of the glossy emporiums is fuelled by the dangerous world of the plant hunters – daring adventurers sent into uncharted lands in search of untold wonders to grace England’s finest gardens.

Matthew Biggs

A Home For Every Plant

Matthew Biggs  and illustrated by  Lucila Perini
Published by: Phaidon
@phaidonpress | @lucilaperinistudio

Journey across 40 incredible habitats around the world to discover the biggest, boldest, and stinkiest plants Without plants there would be no life on Earth, but most people are blind to their impact. This stylish and informative introduction to plants sets out to cure ‘plant blindness’ by introducing children to 66 amazing plants from the six major climactic zones around the world.

Christopher Lloyd

It’s Up To Us

Christopher Lloyd
Published by: What on Earth Books

It’s Up to Us is based on the Terra Carta, a roadmap to sustainability issued by His Majesty King Charles III and his Sustainable Markets Initiative. The story explains in lyrical text how Nature operates in a world without humans. It then shows the damaging impact People have had on the Planet. It finishes by proposing a series of new pledges that we can all make – a Terra Carta – to help solve the problems.

Gini Denison-Pender

Gini Denison-Pender of Beautiful Wild created the original concept and the garden design, choosing Doorstep Library as the ideal charity partner and building the collective ethos of the project. The scheme of a window seat immersed in rainforest greens and surrounded by books grew from the idea that for future generations of children to protect the natural world they should see it as a place of wonder: and reading is at the very heart of that.

Beautiful Wild

Anna Garner

Anna Garner of The Garnered is the link between the garden and many of our artistic contributors, working with them to curate a simple yet harmonious The magic of this collaboration arises from its unity of purpose, directing different skills and talents towards one common goal.

The Garnered

Philippa Craddock 

Philippa Craddock is creating a beautifully textured planting scheme, filling the space with shades of green and a sense of immersion and calmness.

Philippa Craddock

Carl Chaney and James Gleghorn

The complex structural elements are designed by Carl Chaney and James Gleghorn of Greenscape Gardens, using their depth of skill in construction design and landscaping to make the whole structure stand lightly within the space, meeting the strict technical requirements of the balcony gardens.

Greenscape Gardens

Reclaimed Design

Timbers from a pair of Cedars of Lebanon, 160 and 400 years old, create the panelled backdrop and orangery style enclosures, supplied by and processed in their own west country sawmill by specialists in sustainably sourced woods, Reclaimed Design. Translucent recycled glass shelves created with meticulous craftsmanship by glassblower Michael Ruh will float within the narrow bookcases flanking the doorway, illuminated by a lighting scheme created by Neil Parslow designed to entice the visitor and highlight the form and texture of the plants. Neil also designed the fittings, which are supplied by Light Visuals, suppliers of garden lighting for bespoke outdoor schemes.

Reclaimed Design

Ellen Mae Williams and Rachael South

The talented young textile designer Ellen Mae Williams creates the mood of the window seat with sprays of colour from plant based dyes over a linen fabric, working in partnership with specialist upholsterer Rachael South who will give this seat a cloud-like feel with handstitched upholstery and a filling of pure wool from the sheep of Romney Marsh.

Ellen Mae Williams

Rachael South

Giles Deacon

Giles Deacon, the renowned couture designer, adds a touch of magic with depictions of rainforest maps on either side of the door – a chance to take in the artistry of his illustrations close up, adding another layer to the rainforest theme.

Giles Deacon

Ultimate Library

Ultimate Library direct their extensive knowledge of the world of books to the curation of an exciting selection focused on children’s authors writing about the natural world. They have invited several authors to attend the garden during Show week to answer questions about their work and talk about inspirational nature writing for children.

Ultimate Library

If you would like to support our vital work with children and families please visit here.