Gold medal and a royal seal of approval for garden designer from Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 07:45 22 May 2019

Alistair Bayford explains the Family Monsters Garden to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Picture: ADAM VALLANCE

Alistair Bayford explains the Family Monsters Garden to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Picture: ADAM VALLANCE

Adam Vallance

The Family Monsters Garden at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show has won a gold medal for Saffron Walden designer, Alistair Bayford pictured here showing it to William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have also designed a family garden for the show.

Alistair's garden celebrates 150 years of the national charity Family Action and 100 years of the idverde landscaping group which creates and maintains community parks and gardens.

Alistair, who works for idverde, designed the Family Monsters Garden to encourage people to reflect on their pressures and bring families together. The garden uses trees with obvious imperfections to symbolise how families can grow together after tackling challenges.

Boulders and pebbles of different shapes and sizes represent different family monsters being reduced by talking about them.

He said: "The garden is designed to get people talking about the everyday pressures all families face but can find difficult to talk about.

"Research for Family Action found most families were experiencing everyday pressures such as money, health and wellness, work and education, (problems about) spending quality time together, and relationships. The charity calls these issues 'family monsters' to stop these from becoming overwhelming."

The range of plants and habitats in the garden has attracted the urban wildlife in the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital, and should do the same when it is moved to Silkmore Children's Centre in Stafford.

Alistair added: "Bringing this garden to Chelsea has been a real privilege. I'm ecstatic that we've won a gold medal, this is why we do it, there's no feeling like it. It's important that we all talk more about the pressures our families face, and it's been a great experience for the 22 apprentices who've helped build the Family Monsters Garden."

Family Action chief executive, David Holmes, said: "Every family has its monsters and we've been helping families deal with their pressures for 150 years. We hope this wonderful garden, which is full of symbolism, will encourage families to come together and talk We all have everyday problems in our families."

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