Birmingham beat off competition from Leeds, Worcester, and LondonWritten by Megan Stanley on 11th July 2018
Birmingham Council’s Windrush Garden Wins Chelsea Gold
A garden designed by Birmingham City Council (BCC) celebrating the legacy of the Windrush Generation has won gold at the Chelsea Flower Show. It is the seventh gold for the BCC in as many years.
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush to the UK, the floral arrangement was created with the assistance of Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, an ambassador for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and patron of the Windrush Foundation, which funded the project.
The garden depicted the ship, which transported almost 500 Caribbean workers from Jamaica to Essex in 1948, among a bed of hand-picked flowers. Pictures drawn by children explaining what life has been like for the passengers were used to decorate the base of the exhibit.
Recent attention has been drawn to the legacy of the Windrush Generation – a term that describes everyone who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 – as they were recently controversially asked to prove their citizenship in order to continue working in the country, despite the government offering them indefinite leave to remain in 1971. Many of the thousands of British citizens who descend from this generation have been struggling to prove this after the Home Office destroyed their landing cards in 2010.
Responding to the scandal, Theresa May and the Home Office have since apologised for the government’s treatment of the Windrush Generation. The BCC’s commemorative garden was not designed in direct response to this story, but rather to ‘capture the pioneering spirit’ of the people affected.
Speaking about the garden, Darren Share MBE, who led the BCC’s creative team, stated: ‘I am delighted that we have achieved our seventh Chelsea Gold for Birmingham, but ultimately this prestigious award would not have been possible without the vision of Baroness Floella Benjamin.
‘Working with Floella and the Windrush Foundation gave us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the spirit and contributions of the Windrush Generation in a colourful and imaginative way, while also providing opportunities for people to learn about this hugely important chapter in British history.
‘I would also like to thank my team who have worked so hard to bring Floella’s vision to life with the power of plants and, of course, our sponsors who have paid for the display and all the plants and moving within it’.
The garden will soon be displayed in Birmingham’s Victoria Square for public viewing.