Grow2Know is spreading its roots to The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 – with a unique garden design representing both social and climate injustices.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
“Hands off Mangrove” garden is being presented on Royal Hospital Way at RHS Chelsea Flower Show between 24th – 28th May 2022
Inspired by the events of Notting Hill’s Mangrove Nine in the 1970s and the global deforestation of mangroves, a keystone species that harbour entire estuarine communities, Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know aims to drive awareness of the severe impacts that racial and environmental injustices are having on our planet, at the Chelsea Flower Show.
A symbol of coexistence, (bio)diversity, and resilience, the garden is reflective of the community of Notting Hill, where the Mangrove Nine stood up in the face of adversity for their local restaurant – ‘The Mangrove’ – and inspired positive change for future generations.
At the centre of the garden sits a four metre tall, deforested Mangrove sculpture with nine deliberately bare roots, each one honouring a Mangrove Nine member and symbolising a stark reminder of the impact humans are having on the planet’s most important ecosystems. Immersed in abundant and beautiful plant species, through the centre of the garden runs a crushed concrete path, which speaks for the harsh challenges and threats of racism, poverty and violence in 1960/70s Notting Hill.
Featuring edible plants – including beetroot, peppers, rocket and tomatoes – the garden not only provides a means of growing fresh produce and encouraging horticulture within the community, but its strong sculpture will act as a protective canopy, under which the community can reconnect with each other and nature. The plants within the garden have been carefully selected to thrive in the garden’s second life in the North Kensington community – a short journey from the flower show’s grounds in South Kensington.
On 16 December 1971 – a group of black activists made headlines after a ruling at the Old Bailey. Dubbed the “Mangrove Nine”, seven men and two women had been on trial following their arrest during a protest that started outside a Caribbean restaurant called The Mangrove on All Saints Road, in the heart of Notting Hill, West London.
Who are the Mangrove Nine?
Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Frank Crichlow, Rhodan Gordon, Darcus Howe, Anthony Innis, Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Rothwell Kentish, Godfrey Millett.
What were the community protesting about?
The Mangrove Restaurant, based in All Saints Road, Ladbroke Grove, was opened in 1968 by Trinidadian Frank Critchlow. Whilst serving excellent West Indian food, the Mangrove rapidly also became an important social hub for the local community as well as a fashionable venue for celebrities.
Over the space of 18 months the Mangrove was raided repeatedly by the Police under the pretext of searching for drugs, although none were ever found. The raids were deemed motivated by police racism and hostility towards the Mangrove and a desire to close it down. A Committee For the Defence of the Mangrove was formed, and a demonstration – “Hands Off the Mangrove” – was held on 9th August 1970. The intention of the 150 protesters on that day was to march peacefully to each of the three police stations in the area to draw attention to repeated police harassment of the Mangrove and black people in the area. They were met by some 500 police officers who deliberately deployed heavy handed tactics to break up the demonstration, leading to many arrests. Nine activists were singled out and charged with very serious criminal offences – incitement to riot, causing an affray and assaulting police officers and were sent for trial at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London.
What happened at the Trial?
The resulting 55 day trial is regarded as a landmark in British legal history. All defendants were acquitted of the most egregious of the charges brought against them. As part of their legal strategy, two of the nine – Altheia Jones-Lecointe and Darcus Howe represented themselves (another, Rhodan Gordan sacked his lawyer five days into the trial). Their self-representation was highly effective because they were able to directly question police witnesses and to speak directly to the jury to successfully expose and demolish the prosecution’s case. Barbara Beese was represented by the late Ian Macdonald QC, who also performed the crucial role of mediating between the other defendant’s lawyers to prevent and minimise any divisions. Ultimately jury believed the defendants and their verdicts were unanimous, following which the Judge surprised and dismayed the establishment of the day by conceding there was “evidence of racial hatred“ in the Metropolitan Police. What cannot be underestimated is the role played by the community throughout the 55 days in support of the Mangrove Nine. The Public Gallery was filled to capacity every day. Daily demonstrations held outside of the Old Bailey drew public attention to what was going on in the Trial, and daily bulletins were issued detailing the day’s events. The Trial gained international recognition and attention through these acts of solidarity.
The Trial inspired other activists across Britain fighting against police harassment and racism. The Nine had shown it was possible to take this fight on and to win. The Mangrove Nine are no longer just local heroes; they are covered in the national curriculum and have come to wider attention in a new age of black activism and protest.
Film-maker Steve McQueen honoured the story in his short film, Mangrove, made for his 2020 Small Axe series of dramas about key events in black British lives on BBC. Here are the cast alongside Mangrove Nine family members.
The garden at Chelsea Flower Show, built by Jake Catling Founder of The Landscape Consultants, and he was influential with the conception, design and delivery of the project. TLC is a modern, residential landscaping contractor with a difference. Utilising the latest technology, machinery and management, combined with extensive expertise, they offer a professional, tailored-approach to each client and a community feel to working with them.
With the aim to create more access to Grow2Know’s Chelsea Flower Show garden, G2K has invested in bringing the garden to life. With AR technology, it is accessible worldwide, from your living room to any park or public space. Hobs3D has developed technology to engage, educate and raise awareness to the important messages of Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know. Augmented Reality will revolutionise the way we engage with outdoor spaces in the hope to captivate a wider audience.
The illustration was captured by Hiro (Yoshihiro Tamura) a Japan-based garden artist. who has expertise in landscape gardening, site construction, and CAD design and illustration in diverse settings, commercial, public and domestic spaces. HIRO says his gardens are “not just a flat piece of art” – they “grow with the people who spend time in the” creating “small sanctuaries in the middle of busy days”.
CED Stone Landscape have kindly supplied their boulders as seating in our garden and are suppliers of natural stone, paving stones and hard landscaping materials for both private and trade garden landscape projects.As a family business with a unique heritage, they aspire to make the world a more beautiful place. Their involvement with natural stone dates back to the middle of the 19th Century when they supplied raw flint from France to the ceramics industry.
The garden would not have been possible without the generous support of the wonderful team at Project Giving Back who funded the installation of the garden and have shown the G2K team unwavering support and guidance throughout the process.
Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making scheme that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on UK charitable fundraising. It will fund gardens inspired by a range of good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
We would like to give a very special thanks to W Communications who have come on board pro-bono to support us with creating and managing the press and publicity opportunities to give this garden and its legacy the attention it deserves. W Communications is a multi-award-winning PR agency that cares as much about driving commerce as it does creating memorable campaigns recognised across the world.