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Upcycling: RHS Grow Your Own Garden

Ali Dempster, director of Sandstone and designer of the RHS Grow Your Own Garden seen at this years RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show talks to Pro Landscaper about upcycling. In this interview Ali tells us why he incorporated upcycling into his design, what he thinks the benefits are and how he’d encourage more of us to use it in our planting schemes.

Why did you choose to use upcycling in the RHS Grow Your Own Garden?

The initial brief from the RHS was to create a garden that incorporated grow your own ideas that were accessible to all, irrespective of space and budget. What better way to keep costs down than to reuse very cheap or even free items, and to reinvent items that you already have at home.

Grow Your Own

Where did you draw inspiration from to use upcycling?

I wanted the garden to use genuinely upcycled and recycled items – not ones that I had to pay a lot for, as that would’ve completely missed the point. I used Pinterest to spark the creative juices and then it was a case of looking around me everywhere I went. Charity shops, skips, friends’ houses, garages, my own garden, the recycling bin at my home – once you start looking it’s very difficult to stop!

What are the benefits of upcycling?

Upcycling is sustainable, environmentally friendly and economical in terms of gardening and in general. We live in such a throwaway society which is having a devastating impact on our planet. If we can reuse instead of buying new, we help to minimise the amount of waste going into landfill (and our oceans) and also the need for production of new items, thus reducing the amount of environmental pollution as a result of production processes. And if we buy less we spend less!

How would you suggest others incorporate upcycling into their planting schemes?

All that’s really required is a bit of creativity – a bit of paint to brighten up aluminium can plant pots, breezeblocks arranged thoughtfully with produce cascading over the sides, and sculptural looking planters made from old air conditioning ducting off cuts. Start by looking at Pinterest or Google for some inspiration and then have a hunt in your home, garden, workplace and local dump for things that, for whatever reason, are surplus to requirements – plastic milk bottles, juice cartons, tyres, old wellies, an old wheelbarrow, a sink, a bath, people even plant in old toilets! You could aim to only use recycled containers in your garden or you could just have one or two upcycled features, such as a bath planter. I think there’s a bit of a misconception that using recycled and upcycled materials looks a bit ramshackle and unattractive, but I think the RHS Grow Your Own garden proves that upcycling can be very pretty indeed.

For More Information on the company who designed and built the garden visit: www.sandstonedesign.co.uk

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