Peat-free designer garden donated to horticultural charity

Image source, Sunnyside Rural Trust

Image description, The garden was designed by expert and presenter Arit Anderson

  • Author, Louise Parry
  • Role, BBC News, Hertfordshire

A group of gardeners with learning disabilities are “overjoyed” to have received a “peat-free” designer garden from the Royal Horticultural Society.

The Sunnyside Rural Trust in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, will retain the exhibit following its presentation at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

It was designed by television presenter and garden designer Arit Anderson, who grew up in Hertfordshire.

She said she was “overjoyed” and could not imagine “more worthy guardians than the incredible team at Sunnyside.”

Image source, Sunnyside Rural Trust

Image description, Visitors to the RHS Garden Festival at Hampton Court Palace explored the peat-free garden

Their work creates a “green oasis for the public,” said Sunnyside CEO Keely Siddiqui-Charlick.

“The feeling that people need care is turned on its head, because in reality they offer something truly wonderful and therapeutic to everyone.

“We firmly believe that people need to engage in meaningful activities and discover what they are good at and what they are capable of, rather than focusing on things they have been told for most of their lives that they cannot do.”

Ms Siddiqui-Charlick said the team were “overjoyed and really proud” to be supplying plants to the RHS show garden.

“It’s stunning. There’s a huge selection of very unusual foxgloves, some stocks, a shady bed and a summery bed – lots of unusual colour combinations.”

Image source, Keely Siddiqui Charli

Image description, All plants will be transplanted at Sunnyside Rural Trust in Hemel.

All plants and trees were grown using peat-free compost to highlight a more environmentally friendly approach.

Sunnyside supplies thousands of bedding plants to Dacorum Borough Council and has been peat free for three years.

“We had just gone ahead and used tons of bags of compost before we learned about the problems with peat,” says Ms Siddiqui-Charlick.

She is proud that her company is “leading by example” and showing that large-scale cultivation with peat-free compost is possible.

Image description, Keely with Arit, who is “overjoyed” that her garden in Hertfordshire will live on

Arit Anderson said: “I am delighted that the RHS peat-free garden will live on at Sunnyside Rural Trust.

“Their community work is inspiring and the fact that they are a small organization running a 100% peat-free commercial nursery shows that this transition is entirely achievable for businesses of all sizes.”