The "Protect our Playground" garden

The ‘Protect Our Playground’ will feature at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2022 within the community allotments section. This allotment aims to educate on the importance of protecting our soils and reconnecting with nature in partnership with Plastic Free North Devon.

On the allotment, everything is edible, homegrown, reused or repurposed, and centres primarily around captivating grown ups’ imaginations. By weaving in ideas on how we can protect our planet from plastic waste in a creative and thought-provoking manner, we hope to inspire people to look at everyday items a little differently. Through this, we can reconnect with the soil beneath us, the food we eat and the impact we have.

Claire Moodie, CEO of Plastic Free North Devon and amateur gardener says “We are so thrilled to be asked to partner on this project. The combination of Shannon’s gardening talent and passion to help protect and improve our planet will result in something very special. We hope the legacy of her creation will help more people recognise what nurturing plants and nature in a simple, organic, toxic and plastic free  way does for our physical, mental and collective planetary health. It's a simple and broadly accessible thing that we could all be doing more of.“

Allotment features

The Bean Tent is the central focus feature on the allotment, celebrating a variety of peas and beans to create a peaceful place to sit back and relax, enjoying the best view in the house.

To the right of the garden is The Veg Adventure patch, filled with a selection of colourful crops, including pumpkins, courgettes, sweetcorn, beetroot, chard and carrots, all of which have been grown on my own allotment in North Devon over the past 6-months. This is then bordered with an array of savoury herbs, some classics and some more unusual specimens.

To the left of the garden is the fruity forest, offering up strawberries, cape gooseberries, melons, a peach tree, a hawthorn tree and other tasty treats. In turn, this is bordered by sweet scented herbs, many of which have become my absolute favourites since discovering them.

Down the central path is a wooden path, created from salvaged wood and hand painted by my best friend of around 15 years, Sarah Duffy. The artwork on these paths contains messaging in fitting with the theme of the garden, whilst the style is influenced by art we both fell in love with on an island hopping trip to Greece nearly 10 years ago.

The final key element of the plot is the recycling cold frame - Plastic Free North Devon's Head Volunteer, Andy Clee, built the frame (and the path) from reclaimed materials. We then worked to save an array of plastic bottles from going to waste, with my mum sowing panels together to form the back and front, with the smaller bottles threaded onto canes to create the side panels.

Plant list

For anyone who has seen photos or visited in real life and is interested to know what's featured within the plot, here's the (almost) full planting list.

  • Rainbow carrots
  • Funky disco beets
  • Lady Godiva pumpkin
  • Tristar courgette
  • Blue ballet squash
  • Oregon homestead sweetmeat squash
  • Rainbow chard
  • Sweetcorn ‘Swift’
  • Beans
  • Leicester tall peas
  • Strawberry mint
  • Lime mint
  • Moroccan mint
  • Lemon curd thyme
  • Orange thyme
  • Doon Valley thyme
  • Winter savoury
  • Mushroom plant
  • Hyassop blue
  • Blackcurrent sage
  • Bay
  • Physalis (cape gooseberry)
  • Strawberries (mixed varieties)
  • Violas (mixed varieties)
  • Nasturtiums (Blue pepe, Salmon baby, Ladybird rose)
  • Blue borage
  • White borage
  • Marigolds (mixed varieties)

With thanks to

There are so many people I have to thank for this project coming together. It is a community allotment so it was really important for me that the space featured more than just my own plants. A HUGE thank you to the following people for their kindness and generosity - your help donations made this so special and really pulled the whole concept together, I could not have done it without you.

@hayleys_lottie_haven, owner of BackYard Designs, for the stunning signposts and the melon!

@allotmentdiaryoflilyandnana for feeding, watering and rescuing the plants while I'm caught up at work for 90% of the week. Despite the eyerolls, I'm ever grateful for your support and help with keeping these precious plants alive and growing.

@shell_on_earth for suppling the shells to beautifully top the pots, protect the plants from slugs and to finish off the path perfectly.

@urban_herbs for the fabulous herbs in such unusual and exciting varieties. Many of the herbs were previously gifted, and just a week before leaving for the show Andy managed to get an exceptional selection of gorgeous herbs out to me to fill any last gaps. 24 hours from our phone call, I was stood on the allotment with delicious boxes in my hands.

@plasticfreenorthdevon for supporting me in the whole process, and to Andy Clee in particular for letting me raid his treasure trove and building an epic cold frame!

@allotment_and_cake for the tall pea seeds!

To Sarah, mentioned above, for exceeding my hopes and dreams with the painting of the messaging on the path - even at such late notice!

And finally, to my mum, brother and sister for their support with the most random of tasks, with my breakdowns and keeping me fed throughout the process. Whether it's potting on 350 violas at 9pm on a Monday night, designing logos, postcards and being the voice of reason or growing through creative motions with me at all hours of the day and donating your time to build and take down the show garden, you're all amazing. 

About Shannon AKA. Diary of a Lady Gardener

Shannon is a passionate twenty-something-year-old accidental allotmenteer from Devon who discovered the magic of sowing a seed after trying 101 other hobbies and never finding one that rooted. Four years on, she now runs beginner gardening workshops across the UK and has launched a successful podcast for the plant obsessed. Alongside this, she is breaking ground on her environmentally conscious flower farm and developing 'The Mini Gardeners Club'. This is all in an effort to inspire people across the world to get outside and get dirty.

About Plastic Free North Devon

Plastic Free North Devon is a registered charity (Reg No: 1182464) and local environmental movement on a mission to protect and improve our environment through community-led action. By working with local communities, businesses, organisations, and visitors, they aim to; tackle plastic pollution head on by raising awareness, reducing consumption, clearing it away from our environment; inspire reconnection with nature; and facilitate sustainable behavior change in order to accelerate the growth of of environmental engagement and action across North Devon and deliver a radical transformation towards a healthier relationship with the natural world.

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