New Forest community groups design garden for BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair

New Forest residents are to benefit from a new community garden designed by local groups for BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair.

The garden has been designed and built by home-schooled children in Bramshaw and adult participants of Solent Mind, in collaboration with local award-winning designer Leigh Johnstone. It will be on display at BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair at Beaulieu from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 May 2024.

The garden, which has been named “A Forest of Calm”, has been designed to reflect the many benefits that creative opportunities and a connection with nature can have on our mental wellbeing. After the fair, the garden will be moved to Bramshaw Village Hall, where regular users of the hall can continue to enjoy and help care for the space.

The project has been supported and funded by New Forest District Council, Culture in Common, and the New Forest National Park Authority. The organisations are working together to enhance the artistic and cultural opportunities available to residents, which reflect the New Forest’s unique sense of place.

Cllr Dan Poole, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Safety, and Wellbeing at New Forest District Council, said: “We’re extremely proud to be working together with local creatives and our partners Culture in Common and New Forest National Park Authority on this incredible project. Together, we’re continuing to develop creative opportunities in the district that benefit our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing and reflect our appreciation for our local environment. It’s fantastic that our residents will continue to enjoy “A Forest of Calm” for many years to come.”

Leigh Johnstone said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be working on this project; one that means so much to me both as a local resident and a frequent user of the New Forest National Park. I have designed this garden, alongside local people, to reflect how being outdoors and immersing ourselves in nature, that is often just on our doorsteps, can be a great way to support our mental health and wellbeing. For someone who suffers from poor mental health, creating spaces that encourage people to connect with plants and the natural world is so important. I hope that the garden will provide inspiration and joy, and inspire even more people to get outside.”

Jacqui Ibbotson, Programme Director of Culture in Common, said: “We are so pleased to have found a perfect location and group to work with Leigh (The Beardy Gardener) on this project. The trustees of Bramshaw Village Hall have been wanting to plant a garden for a long time and the young people that meet there every week are thrilled to be helping to design and build it, not to mention enjoy the excitement of being part of the BBC event in Beaulieu in May.”

David Bence, Chair of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “The New Forest is a world capital for wildlife and a place of tranquility and respite, and we all know that spending time in nature is vital for our health and wellbeing. Not only will the ‘A Forest of Calm’ garden provide such a space, it will also be a great way to inspire more people to connect and care for nature and will go on to benefit National Park residents.”

Residents can find out more about the design project and fair on the Culture in Common website at