Chelsea Pensioners and horticultural apprentices get innovative about working together during COVID-19

GoLandscape EdNews & Events


The Royal Hospital Chelsea has been the iconic location of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for over 100 years. To celebrate the connection with the Show and to underline our commitment to our own historic Gardens as well as the Horticulture industry in general, we have teamed up with the Royal Parks Guild to launch a new, intergenerational initiative called ‘Growing Generations’. 

The scheme aims to underline the importance and benefits of all ages working together and sharing their knowledge, experience and skills. Using this year’s Growing Generations theme, ‘Say it with Plants’, horticulture apprentices and trainees, along with green-fingered Chelsea Pensioners, will get creative by being encouraged to design an imaginative, thought provoking, three-dimensional structure featuring plants and decorative items. The whole display has to fit within a 1 metre square container. The entrants are being asked to create a display which interprets the notion of ‘what horticulture means to them’. 

Recognising the impossibility of bringing people together during these uncertain times, this free to enter competition is completely virtual and is titled ‘Design Online – Say it with Plants’, with the winning entries being displayed next year. Other Chelsea Pensioners will also be joining in by crafting prize winner awards in ceramics, designing certificates of excellence, growing plants for the winning entries and, quite possibly, entering their own container display.

The ‘Growing Generations’ project and ‘Say it with Plants’ competition is a new venture which was inspired by the previous innovative, intergenerational collaboration between The Royal Hospital Chelsea and Royal Parks Guild. The two organisations focused on the benefits of intergenerational work through the ‘Battlefields to Butterflies’ project. This saw Chelsea Pensioners and horticultural apprentices and trainees come together, through gardening and sharing of ideas, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One, in 2018. Guided by a series of interactive workshops, the students and Chelsea Pensioners helped plan, design and grow plants for a much-acclaimed, commemorative WWI landscape exhibit, which was created in partnership with Historic Royal Palaces and displayed at the 2018 RHS Hampton Court Flower Show.

Competition entries will be judged by experts from the horticultural industry. The best twelve entries, from two categories, will be invited to construct their designs within the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2021, when an overall winner will be chosen. The closing date for the competition is Friday 14th August 2020.

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