Devon trio unites to create an innovative health garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Three leading local companies have joined forces in a high-profile charitable project aimed at rewilding the environment, promoting healthy eating and raising awareness of bowel disease.

The project has been commissioned by Bowel Research UK with the aim of constructing a ‘Microbiome Garden’ that reflects a healthy gut. It has been funded by Project Giving Back and designed by top garden designers, Chris Hull and Sid Hill.

The state-of-the-art garden is being constructed by Atlantes Landscapes in Exeter, transported to the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show and returned to a permanent site in Devon.

The three companies are:

  • GreenBrook Landscape Design led by Chris Hull of the ‘Garden Rescue’ TV series. Chris grew up in Tavistock and recently relocated from Bath to Exeter;
  • Sid Hill Ecological Gardens based in Totnes. Sid is a well-known ecological horticulturalist who creates food forests and edible meadows; and
  • Atlantes Landscapes, headed up by Paul Bentley who has more than 40 years of experience in landscape construction and has managed the design, construction and logistics of the garden in Marsh Barton.

The Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden, which will include an edible meadow, seeks to explore the link between a healthy landscape, healthy gut, and healthy mind. A microbiome is a community of microorganisms living together in a particular habitat.

“The garden expresses the importance of correct nutrition and developing the right kind of bacteria in your body based on what you eat,” says Denise Gomes, who is a director at Atlantes Landscapes. “This is why its walls have been sculpted as a representation of the walls of the human gut. This reflects a membrane that absorbs the nutrients we need, with plants that provide good bacteria living on the walls. Plus, there will be beehives to add to the biodiversity.”

The Royal Horticultural Society hosts the RHS Chelsea Flower Show each year on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. This year it takes place from 21st – 25th May 2024. Construction of the garden takes place over the three weeks prior to the grand opening which is attended by royalty and other prominent visitors before being open to the public.

“As the contractors for this prestigious project, we realise what a mammoth job it is to coordinate the delivery of materials, liaise with suppliers and work with designers to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time,” Denise continues. “The garden structure will be built in Exeter, dismantled and transported in sections. This will require a huge crane especially for the sculpted wall which is extremely heavy.

“Then the various sections will need to be reassembled. We have 10 days to build the structure and one week to put the over 800 plants in place. It is going to be amazing and the best part is that the project won’t end in London. The garden is going to be relocated to Totnes.”

Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show the Microbiome Garden will be relocated to the Apricot Centre in Dartington, a sustainable diverse farm and well-being service for children and families.

“It’s the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to be at the Chelsea Flower Show,” says Atlantes owner Paul Bentley, MCIHort, MSGD, MBALI. “I’ve been in landscaping since I was 16 and some of the companies I’ve worked with have exhibited but I personally didn’t get to go. So, when this opportunity came up with Chris and Sid, we were all super excited.”

Paul also highlights the importance of the charity behind the project and what it aims to achieve through the garden. “It’s a massive joint achievement, we have a good rapport together and it’s for a great cause. So many people suffer from bowel conditions, and we are pleased to play our part in helping Bowel Research UK create awareness about eating well and reconnecting with nature for good gut health.”

About Atlantes Landscapes

Atlantes is a leading provider of innovative and sustainable landscaping solutions. With more than 40 years of experience, the Atlantes team provides expert craftsmanship from design phase to construction and aftercare. Based in Marsh Barton, the company is accredited with various industry organisations including the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH); Society of Garden Designers (SGD) and the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI). The company also holds several ISO certifications.

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