The smallest garden centre with the biggest heart at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

While everyone is hopefully relaxing in the sunshine today, Richard and Hannah will be busy putting the finishing touches to the Sauna Snug Stand at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, making sure it looks its very best in time for Monday’s launch. This year the planting has been made possible thanks to a collaboration with The Urban Garden, a wonderful garden centre in the heart of Bath which gives adults struggling with their mental health a chance to progress in their lives whilst working within a community-focused business. 

Located right next door to the iconic Royal Crescent and neighbouring city centre allotments, the Urban Garden really lives up to the words on its website, the ‘Smallest garden centre with the biggest heart’. With just days to go before Chelsea, we caught up with its director Matt Smail to find out more about the work of this inspiring little garden centre – and get a feel for the exciting planting in store for our Stand…

Firstly, can you tell us a little about The Urban Garden and how it helps local people in Bath?

The Urban Garden was set up to offer opportunities for adults to progress in their lives whilst working within a community-focused business. We are the only organisation in Bath that offers accredited horticultural training for adults who are struggling with their mental health and/or are long-term unemployed. We also offer three-month work placements, and since opening have progressed over 11 people into employment. Our fantastic team of volunteers help us with the day-to-day running of the garden centre as well as helping us to grow the plants we sell.

What can visitors to The Urban Garden expect?

As the ‘Smallest garden centre with the biggest heart’, we’re a beautiful oasis of calm with a unique glasshouse experience where you can relax while also being able to buy unusual plants and products, many grown or made by our volunteers. We believe in the gentle spread of nature through gardening and sell peat-free compost in refillable bags as well as using ‘posipots’ which allows the customer to take home their plants plastic-free.

You were recently recognised with an award from the RHS. Can you tell us more about that?

This was an ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ RHS award which is for volunteer groups who want to green their environment. We received ‘Outstanding’ which is testament to our volunteers’ skill and commitment to the project.

Have you noticed an increase in people’s interest in gardening and gardening for wellbeing in recent years?

Absolutely! Since lockdown we have seen a huge upsurge in interest, particularly the growing of vegetables and we have a thriving local allotment community who purchase from us – at a discount of course!

What do you think of our new Sauna Snug hut? 

Looks great! I can’t wait to see it up close at Chelsea!

Can you tell us about the plants you have chosen to accompany our hut this year?

Hannah and I have spent a lot of time working together and choosing the planting plan. Without giving too much away, the front of the Stand will be planted with low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly perennials while the area surrounding the outdoor shower of the Sauna Snug will be planted with wonderful damp-loving plants like ferns which thrive in these conditions. The overall effect I’m sure will be really beautiful. All the plants will be available to buy when Chelsea closes at the end of Saturday, with proceeds going to the Urban Garden charity. 

Come and say hello and visit us on Tradestand AR640, Ranelagh Gardens, RHS Chelsea Show 

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