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Prince Harry brings slice of Lesotho to UK


BRITAIN’S Prince Harry will bring a slice of Africa to the Chelsea Flower Show this year when his Sentebale charity unveils a garden modelled on a children’s camp in Lesotho.

The Hope in Vulnerability garden invokes the Mamohato Children’s Centre, using traditional African building techniques and, the Prince hopes, a native poppy which has never been seen in this country before.

Formally known as the Great Spring Show, the Chelsea Flower Show is a garden show held for five days in May by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London.

It is the most famous flower show in the United Kingdom, and perhaps in the world, attracting visitors from all continents.

The Prince has hired Matt Keightley, the 30-year-old designer of the Help For Heroes garden, which won the People’s Choice award at last year’s show, for Sentebale’s second Chelsea garden after its successful debut in 2013.

Unveiling the design for the 32ft x 72ft plot, Keightley said Prince Harry, who set up the charity nine years ago with Prince Seeiso, was keen to throw his own ideas into the mix and be kept updated on the garden’s progress.

He said: “He is very keen to know about the details, from the colour of the stone to which plants we’re going to use, when they will be ready, and so on. He wants to make sure it is exactly right.

“He also has his own ideas and there’s still one which is a work in progress which may or may not come off. It’s rather an ambitious one though!”

The central feature of the garden will be a hut based on one of the buildings at the Mamohato centre, which will open a few weeks after May’s show to provide medical and educational support to children living with HIV in Lesotho. Vibrant colour will be a running theme in the display, with ribbons attached to the construction.

The design will use a mixture of British plants and those native to Lesotho to replicate the varying landscape in the mountain kingdom, and Keightley is trying to germinate a papaver aceuletus orange-coloured poppy, native to Lesotho, in the hope of being the first person to show one at Chelsea.

He said: “People have tried and failed in the past to germinate them here, and we won’t know until a couple of weeks before the show whether we’ve been successful.”

Other details include children’s footprints hand-carved into rocks, to reference the “spirit of playfulness” Keightley found at other Sentebale projects, and a clay cooking pot which the designer brought back from his trip.

Keightley, who works for the Maidenhead-based landscaping firm Rosebank, said he had intended to have a break from show gardens after making his show debut last year.

“I wanted to wait for a while until the right project came along,” he said. “But then two weeks after the show, this came up.

“Prince Harry, who had made a private visit to the Help For Heroes garden one evening last year, had requested that I design a garden for Sentebale, and it’s not the sort of request you turn down.

“I went to a meeting at Clarence House with Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales, whose Prince’s Foundation for Building Community is part of the project, and they liked my ideas but it was suggested I should go to Lesotho.

We had a hugely inspiring trip to Lesotho last year which further informed me about the fantastic fundraising and charity work Sentebale does and it has directly influenced my approach to the design of the garden.”

I want people who see the garden to feel as if they are looking into Lesotho.

The garden will use coppiced sweet chestnut for the hut and a fence, which will be put together with traditional African building methods including using stripped bark to tie the fence together. – Telegraph


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