In Focus

See Chelsea for free (or for the price of a cocktail anyway)

by Alice Wright

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show starts today and for lovers of all things gardening it’s one of the hottest tickets in town. But if you haven’t managed to get your hands on a pass this year you don’t have to miss out on the horticultural action altogether. A range of venues around the capital are hosting Flower Show-related events throughout the week and we’ve rounded up a few of the best.

Garden art: Prize for Illustration 2015

by Rhiannon James

The annual Prize for Illustration has taken London Places and Spaces as its theme for 2015 and many of the artists have found inspiration in the capital’s green and pleasant corners.

London: National Park City

by Lucy Purdy

Former geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison believes classification as a National Park City would prompt Londoners to re-imagine their city in a positive way, push growing projects to the fore, and help to tackle issues such as obesity and climate change along the way.

Horticultural therapy; healing the scars of war

by Lucy Purdy

Gardening Leave helps the estimated 20 per cent of veterans who carry a mental wound – damage which needs healing as urgently as any physical injury. They help veterans of all ages, but usually between 37 and 42, who have returned from conflicts in places such as Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq.

Rethinking the urban landscape exhibition

by Rhiannon James

Landscape and particularly green space, is vital to making cities healthier, cleaner, more sustainable, more sociable and pleasanter places to live. Rethinking the Urban Landscape exhibition presents 43 projects, selected by The Building Centre in conjunction with the Landscape Institute, which show the potential for public green space to change lives. There are the iconic projects such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park but also smaller initiatives -Derbyshire Street Pocket Park for example – which are predominantly community-led.

From Grey to Green: Adventures in Radical Urban Gardening

by Drucilla James

For many of us gardening may be a hobby or a chore, but for the speakers at this autumn’s greening the city conference in Sheffield, it is a life-saving necessity. From Professor Nigel Dunnett ‘s aesthetic ecology transforming urban drabness to Ron Finley’s horticultural antidote to the deadly fast food habits of the developed world, this event was full of ideas to make our towns and cities more uplifting, healthier and communal places to live.

Student Eats – bringing the Good Life to university campuses

by Alice Wright

Vegetable patches and herb gardens are springing up on university campuses across the UK as students get involved with a food project aimed at sparking a passion for growing and eating sustainable, local produce.

Flowers@Oxford

by Drucilla James

For the last weekend in August Flowers@Oxford has taken over Lady Margaret Hall to promote cut flowers and everything you need to know about floral design. And to this end, everywhere in this Oxford college including the Deneke Common Room seems to have been decked out with flowers. Fantastic confections can be found both indoors and out, ranging from floral ladies languishing in punts on the river to temple huts in the Fellows’ Garden and gerbera pyramids right way up and upside down in the Front Quad.

Parks under threat

by Alice Wright

They are often described as the “green lungs” of a city – leafy, rejuvenating oases amid the smog and crowds of urban life. But our much-loved parks are “close to crisis point”, according to The Parks Alliance, a body formed last year in response to growing concern about public green spaces.