Flooded Cosmos at Chelsea for first time

Amateur grower, and National Plant Collection Holder, Jonathan Sheppard is making his RHS Chelsea Flower Show debut in little over two weeks, bringing the first ever collection of Cosmos bipinnatus to the Show.

Having had his two collections flooded out by storm Babet, leaving neighbouring houses still uninhabitable to date, this is a true come back story.

As a nod to “From Flood to flowers” he has commissioned a sculpture of 5 rusted cosmos that will appear on the stand to signify the resilience of gardens and gardeners and how they must adapt to both drier Summers and wetter Winters.

Sheppard said, “I try to focus on sustainability in my display, talking about how I am 100% peat free, pesticide free and grow my national collection using solely stored rainwater”. The flood very much brought home to me how we gardeners need to start thinking not just about what we grow in terms of it being resilient, but how we grow it and the impact that has. Plant perfection can’t cost the earth.”

This is not the only first Sheppard is bringing to the Great Pavilion. He is producing an audio description of the stand, along with audio of all the educational material that people can see on display.

According to Sheppard, “I decided to take the accessibility of my educational material to the next level and essentially create an audio description of the stand for people who may have sight issues, or indeed for anyone who wants to know more about why I grow the way I do.

My Nana was a keen gardener and towards the end of her life she lost her sight, so I often had to describe the things I was growing to her. While I can’t offer up a sensory experience, this is the next best thing, which I hope means more people can truly enjoy what is on display.”

Jonathan Sheppard is the holder of two Plant Heritage National Plant Collections of Alcea (hollyhocks) and Cosmos bipinnatus. To find out more about the National Plant Collections, visit www.plantheritage.org.uk

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