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Chelsea Garden Finds a Home in Poplar

Morgan Stanley’s award-winning Chelsea Flower Show garden discovers its true beauty in East London.

Children in London’s densely populated East End don’t often get to run free in gardens, let alone one of the meticulously manicured winners of the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

That changed this summer when Morgan Stanley uprooted its designer garden at the Chelsea show and transported it to a vacant lot surrounded by public housing in London’s neighborhood of Poplar.

It was fresh from winning a gold medal at Chelsea, awarded for designer Chris Beardshaw’s representation of the concept of community, with hedges perfectly trimmed into the shape of a “friendship knot” and sprays of flowers for diversity.

But the true beauty of the garden blossomed when the local Poplar kids descended upon it in droves, racing through the maze of hedges and playing hide-and-seek among the flower beds. A class of primary school children unloaded tiles they’d decorated with bursts of blue, green and yellow patterns to decorate a seating area.

The adults, meanwhile, clambered in and out of a row of raised beds, raking dirt and fussing over what vegetables should be planted where.

“I designed the garden to be used by as many different people in the community as possible, so there’s wildflower meadows for the children to explore, there’s raised beds so adults can grow fruits and veggies and there’s seating areas where you can just drink in the beauty of the place,” said Beardshaw.

Morgan Stanley partnered with Beardshaw to build the garden, as part of its Healthy Cities London program, which is anchored in Poplar, a residential area that runs up against the London docklands and Canary Wharf.

Research associated with Morgan Stanley’s Health Cities London program noted the lack of opportunities and facilities for children in the area to play, and a propensity for childhood obesity.

“When we embarked upon this project, we felt that whatever we did, it had to be for the long term, it had to be sustainable, it had to have a real impact for the local residents, and I think that this garden will achieve all of those things,” said Colm Kelleher, Morgan Stanley’s President of Institutional Securities.

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