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The monsters in our garden: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

20 February 2019

Landscape architect and Family Monsters garden designer, Alistair Bayford discusses family monsters in the second of a series of articles exploring the road to our garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

We’ve now revealed the hidden identity of our Chelsea Flower Show garden after the launch of #MyFamilyMonsters campaign in January and my first article. The garden is a physical manifestation of the Family Monsters Project, which is getting people talking about the everyday pressures any family might face.
Have you seen the short Family Monsters Project film? I’m sure many people, like me, can relate to just one of the monsters it highlights. The film can be watched here, so please take a look. Our Family Monsters Garden is one of many moments in the year to start the conversation and help us all face our monsters together.


“No one monster can be defined and a monster for one person isn’t necessarily the same for another”

The monsters in our garden are represented by boulders and cobbles. We spent time at CED Stone in Thurrock selecting boulders that best represent the range of monsters any family might face.
The glacial boulders; all of different shapes, sizes, colours and textures represent those monsters. No one monster can be defined and a monster for one person isn’t necessarily the same for another. Some problems can seem significant to some and insignificant to others.

The monsters are eventually tamed, smoothed out and you could say healed. The pool within the garden is lined with Scottish beach cobbles. The descendants of the glacial boulders worked smooth by tidal action over time. Some monsters take time to better understand, to acknowledge, to resolve and to heal. The transition from the larger glacial boulders to the cobbles also signifies the power of conversation in breaking down a problem and making it easier to deal with.

The garden is personal to me and the many Family Action service users; I hope it strikes a connection with those involved and those that visit. I’m certainly not alone. Next week I’ll be visiting our plant supplier and updating you on how our plants are growing – come back then or follow me and Family Action on social media to see snippets about us bringing the garden design to life.

Read updates on our Family Monsters Garden here. You can also get involved with the project or join the conversation – our film could be a good place for you to start your conversation or encourage someone else to start theirs.