Environment

Floella Benjamin scores gold in Chelsea with planet-saving garden

The former kids' TV presenter teamed up with Birmingham City Council to push the public into taking action on climate change

Broadcaster, charity worker and politician Baroness Floella Benjamin was the talk of Chelsea Flower Show this week after she revealed her climate crisis-inspired garden – and won a gold medal for it.

In partnership with Birmingham City Council, Benjamin helped design a garden with one key message: we all need to do our bit to reverse climate change chaos, now.

The Royal Horticulture Society ambassador told the Big Issue: “I didn’t want to just point at climate change to say ‘this is bad’ – I wanted it to make people think about what they personally were going to do.

“Let’s start inventing our way out of climate change.”

Chelsea flower show floella benjamin
D7AFD0AXoAAJJBU

At the centre of the display is a three meter-tall head made out of over 3,000 tubes; it can be seen drinking out of a disposable cup using a plastic straw.

Water is brought up through the straw then recycling through a canal network, with those pathways lined by low-allergen flora which removes toxins from the environment.

A miniature road made from recycled tyres runs through the centre of the display to represent the impact transport has on air pollution in towns and cities – and a large foot sculpture hangs above the garden to represent our carbon footprints.

Benjamin, who has been attending Chelsea Flower Show for more than 30 years, said: “The most important thing to remember is our children. It’s not fair how little we’re doing for them.

“There are big things that can be done, like the air pollution buses brought in Southampton, but there are little things to be done too, like turning off the tap when brushing your teeth to save water. Or have a compost heap for all your food waste, things like that. It makes you feel good to to know that you’re doing your bit.”

D69rKeYWsAA5U7J

The politician said the response has been “great” and that she has been overwhelmed by the positive response from the public.

“It was sensational,” she said. “The garden has galvanised people. They left saying ‘I’m going to go home and take action’.

“It’s like an army of people going to save our planet and do what they can. It was a lovely feeling to have motivated others. That’s just what the garden was to do.”

This wasn’t the first time Benjamin and Birmingham City Council found success together. They won a gold medal last year for a garden inspired by 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in Britain from the Caribbean.

Benjamin will be shining a light on the stories, experiences and struggles of the Windrush Generation when she takes over the Big Issue as guest editor next month.

Support our vendors this winter and beyond

If you can't visit your local vendor on a regular basis, then the next best way to support them is with a subscription to the Big Issue. As a social enterprise, we invest every penny we make back into the organisation. That means that with every subscription, we are supporting people in poverty to get back on their own two feet.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'Illegal vapes are already flooding the market': What impact will disposable vapes ban really have?
disposable vape ban
Disposable vapes

'Illegal vapes are already flooding the market': What impact will disposable vapes ban really have?

Insulating Britain's draughty homes would save billions on bills – but UK government is failing
Insulate homes to slash energy bills and tackle climate change
Climate Change

Insulating Britain's draughty homes would save billions on bills – but UK government is failing

How nuclear bunkers could save the internet: 'An appropriate metaphor for the climate crisis'
a coastline and the sea
Climate change

How nuclear bunkers could save the internet: 'An appropriate metaphor for the climate crisis'

Everything you need to know about 2024's already-controversial COP29 in Azerbaijan
Rishi Sunak speaks to King Charles at COP28. This year's COP29 will be held in Azerbaijan
Climate crisis

Everything you need to know about 2024's already-controversial COP29 in Azerbaijan

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Here's when UK households to start receiving last cost of living payments

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know