The Force for Good RHS Chelsea Garden by Sparsholt College

Double award for Sparsholt College and Help for Heroes

The Force for Good Garden winning a Gold and Best Discovery Exhibit at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Sparsholt College continue their RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winning run with the news this morning that they have won a Gold medal and Best Discovery Exhibit at this year’s show. The College and their 2018 partner Help for HeroesThe Force for Good garden was designed and created by Horticulture students and military Veterans to tell the powerful story of the role horticulture plays in the recovery and ongoing support of injured British Armed Forces personnel and their families.


Lecturer Chris Bird, who has led the College to eight Gold medals, three Silver-gilt medals, six Silver medals and three Bronze said:

It is always an honour to exhibit at RHS Chelsea and this year feels particularly meaningful given the show’s theme of health, wellbeing and happiness and the powerful story it has enabled us to tell in collaboration with our partner Help for Heroes. Not only have our students won another Gold medal at the world’s most famous flower show but they have had the privilege of working alongside military Veterans who have been inspiring, motivating and made an invaluable contribution to this year’s garden.


The design of the garden was inspired from conversations between students and the veterans. These personal experiences have been brought to life through the planting to illustrate the positive impact gardening activity can have on mental health and the role horticulture plays in ongoing support and recovery.


Sparsholt student and Head of Plants for The Force for Good garden, Lucy Phalp was thrilled when she heard the news that the team had won two top accolades from The RHS. She said:

Exhibiting at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve never been to the show before and to be here for the first time with a double award winning stand is just fantastic.


Lucy continued:

Working with Help for Heroes Veterans on this project has been special because we’ve made such strong connections. Our conversations talking about how horticulture has helped us individually and learning from one another is ultimately what informed the message of our garden.


Veterans Gill Parker and Rachel Willis echoed Lucy’s delight, saying:

It’s gratifying to see that all our hard work on The Force for Good garden has been rewarded. It’s so humbling and very emotional to win not only Gold but also Best in Section. We are all so happy.


The Force for Good is divided into three sections – ‘Surviving’, ‘Support’ and ‘Stability’.  The positioning and grouping of plants in ‘Surviving’ show disorientation, the conflicting emotions and mental state of those being supported by Help for Heroes before they enter any recovery programme. As they progress through their journey to ‘Stability’, the garden portrays a number of horticultural activities undertaken at the four Recovery Centres nationwide with a focus on crop production and horticulture skills. The third and final section of the garden ‘Support’ shows how planting and landscaping, including a still pool and seating, can create an area promoting recovery and ongoing support. The stage when an individual becomes an active member of their community again, and can make a positive impact in society once more.


The garden engages all of its visitors’ senses, using relevant sound tracks in each section. White noise conveys chaos and confusion, natural sounds give a sense of nature and the outdoors and a symphonic piece of music, composed especially for Help for Heroes, provides the backdrop to peace, calm and relaxation.


Find out more our RHS Chelsea garden on our special Chelsea page by clicking here and for details on our full range of Horticulture courses please go to


Main Photo: The Force for Good RHS Chelsea Garden by Sparsholt College Photo Credit STEWART TURKINGTON


  1. Chelsea Pensioners and The Force for Good RHS Chelsea Team
  2. Student Lucy Phalp and Veteran Gill Parker with Chelsea Pensioner
  3. Sparsholt Horticulture Expert Chris Bird, Gardeners’ World Presenter Alys Fowler.
  4. Horticultural Therapist from Help for Heroes Lucy Thorpe, TV Presenter George lamb


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