Southbank gardening with socially excluded people
We worked with a group of men and women, many of whom had been homeless, to transform a concrete space into a rooftop garden at London’s Southbank Centre.
Southbank garden helps homeless
How Eden helped create a rooftop garden that's transforming lives.Play video
We teamed up with the Grounded gardening team from Providence Row Housing Association in London to create a rooftop garden for London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, helping realise the architect’s plans for a ‘Sun Deck’ into reality 60 years after the Southbank was built.
Today the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden is one of London’s best kept secrets; a green oasis amidst the bustling city, where passers-by can pop in for a summer’s evening drink from the bar or to find a quiet spot on a busy day.
But the story behind its creation is what makes the place so special. The garden was painstakingly built and lovingly tended by a group of service users, tenants and former tenants who had suffered homelessness.
For three years in a row (2011, 2012 and 2013) the group worked with designers and horticulturalists from the Eden Project to produce a beautiful space, including building paths, installing pieces of artwork, planting vegetables, and keeping it looking fabulous throughout the summer months.
Designed by Eden’s landscape architect Jane Knight and designer Paul Stone, the garden includes a lawn area with orchards, vegetable plots, a wild flower area, a herb garden created around a café, plus a woodland area.
Some of the gardeners, including Paul Pulford, also known as Scruffy, have built on their previous successes with Eden at the Chelsea Flower Show. Paul said: ‘To be able to help to design, build and nurture the garden on the Thames at Southbank Centre with our team is, to this date, one of the biggest challenges of my life. Seven years ago, I was a broken man both physically and mentally, living on the streets with methadone, heroin and alcohol addictions numbing the misery of my life.
Today I am clean, paying my own rent for the first time in 30 years and I get my hands in the earth each day.
Paul Pulford (Scruffy)
Today I am clean, employed as a Horticulture Teacher in our group, Grounded Ecotherapy, paying my own rent for the first time in 30 years and I get my hands in the earth each day, grow plants, herbs and vegetables and share my life with anyone who wants to join us.’
Read the story of Emily Hegarty, one of the group.
Visit the garden
Visit the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden at the Southbank Centre, open during the summer.