I am fortunate to have grown up surrounded by beautiful gardens, thanks to my Father, John F. Letts who is a landscape achitect and horticulturalist. My Father had his own nursery called Foxhollow, in Westwood Road, Windlesham, Surrey. His own Father, F. George Letts specialised in Roses. His Uncle, Arthur Letts, founder of the Broadway Department Store and Holmby Hills in Los Angeles, was also a keen horticulturalist. My Father however specialised in Heathers, Ericas and Conifers. While at Foxhollow, my Father supplied the Royal family with plants. My Father also wrote ‘Hardy Heathers’ that is often referred to as the first textbook on the subject. Some of his discoveries are still at Wisley Gardens in Surrey, and are listed in the database of the Heather Society.
When I was little, my Father took me to see the Shrewsbury flower show during a visit to the UK. However, I have not yet had the pleasure to visit the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) Chelsea flower show, that will be next on my to-do list. The Chelsea Flower Show was open today for the Royal family and celebrities to attend the charity gala preview. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was spotted amongst the privileged guests. The gates open to the public tomorrow (19 May 2009), until the show finishes on Saturday 23 May 2009.
In an interview at 12.40pm on Working Lunch by BBC2, ex-offender and poet Dean Stalham discussed the Key gardenat the show. Stalham’s poem was painted on large pillars around the ‘Places of Change Pavillion’ that was designed by Architecture Sans Frontieres (ASF). The garden ‘the Key’ was made using approximately 10,000 plants that were grown around the country by homeless people and current and ex-offenders. Of these plants, around 4,000 of them were used in a giant wall that was planted by members from the Plymouth Shekinah Mission for homeless people. The wall is an impressive 66 ft wide by 7 ft high and contains a mixture of soft fruit, ornamental plants, herbs and vegetables. The key is a project that was made possible by a collaboration of five different groups:
- Homes and Communities Agency (HCA);
- Communities and Local Government (CLG);
- The Eden Project;
- Homeless Link; and
- London Employer Accord (LEA).
The HCA and CLG provided the funding. It was designed by the Eden Project, or more specifically by Paul Stone. The manpower came from the Homeless Link. The objectives from the government included sustainability, and to break the cycle of social exclusion. To provide homeless people with opportunities to improve their lives through skills and training, and a sense of accomplishment and community connections.
Stalham who is also a playwright and artist, said that new opportunities have changed his life. He has been asked to exhibit his work at a gallery, and he now has some plays coming on. Stalham has already written a number of plays that have been professionally produced including Sporadicity, Senti-mental, and Take It Or Leave. Stalham has worked on a series of mixed media pictures of Amy Winehouse in collaboration with Peter Cameron.