Sunnyside Rural Trust will be at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in July. The festival runs from 5-11 July with a preview evening on 5 July.
Not only are they growing 12000 perennials for acclaimed landscape architect, Tom Stuart-Smith’s exhibition garden as the RHS Iconic Horticultural Hero this year, but they are providing plants to the RHS for their bench planters at the show. Sunnyside will also have stands there promoting how they work with young people and adults with learning disabilities and with product they have made to show what people with learning disabilities when supported, can do.
Sunnyside provides meaningful and enjoyable work opportunities for learning specific skills that enable young people and adults with learning disabilities to achieve greater independence and employment. They aim to offer paid, supported employment posts to people with learning disabilities and currently have six former service users in paid positions with Sunnyside – including caretakers, head of animal care, a barista and gardeners. As only 6% of all people with learning disabilities in the UK are in any type of paid work, this is a significant number.
The charity challenges the public’s perception of people with learning disabilities by focussing on what they achieve rather than on their ‘disability’. Trainees, at Sunnyside are enabled to gain horticultural skills and, more significantly, to develop valuable social skills, becoming ‘confident, independent, happy, and healthy individuals … with … lifelong learning skills.’
‘Sunnyside is delighted to have this opportunity to work with Tom Stuart-Smith, Toby and Chris Marchant and the RHS to produce outstanding perennial plants. This project represents a sustainable source of income for our charity, which is needed now more than ever; it offers vital training and employment opportunities for some of most vulnerable young people and adults, with the therapeutic benefits of horticulture. For our customers, not only can you buy high-quality plants but the chance to make a difference to your community in a sustainable and meaningful way,’ said Keely Siddiqui-Charlick, CEO, Sunnyside Rural Trust.
As the RHS’s Iconic Horticultural Hero, Tom Stuart-Smith has designed the feature garden as a climate-resilient planting of meadow perennials interspersed with Mediterranean shrubs. It includes a loose planting of figs, Pistacia, Phillyrea and the rare Mediterranean conifer Tetraclinis articulata. Together these trees and shrubs form a framework for a colourful mix of flowers and grasses. Every plant included is adapted to hot and fairly dry conditions. The Hemel Hempstead site now produces an exciting range of perennial plants for the discerning landscape market.
Tickets to the event are available to buy directly from the RHS:
In 2020 Sunnyside celebrated 30 years of offering training and employment services to young people and adults with learning disabilities from across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. What started as a small number of allotments at the Northchurch site offering horticultural training, has developed into an innovative social enterprise, working in the community and from four local sites. The Sunnyside vision is to empower vulnerable people to reach their full potential and lead a healthy life through horticultural training and work experience. All activities focus strongly on sustainability and care for the environment.
‘We wish everyone good health and stay safe and we look forward to helping our community grow in the years to come,’ said Keely Siddiqui-Charlick, CEO.