Skip to main content
close x

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

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 event, 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, 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 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 event on the Culture in Common website at

A Watercolour illustration of the garden design by artist Alexandra Froggratt.
A Watercolour illustration of the garden design by artist Alexandra Froggratt.

[Joint release]


  • Watercolour illustration of the garden design by artist Alexandra Froggratt.

You can find out more about the BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair on their website:

About New Forest District Council:

New Forest District Council is one of the largest local government authorities in the country, serving a population of over 170,000 residents in the beautiful New Forest district of Hampshire.

Our vision is to secure a vibrant, sustainable, safe, and prosperous New Forest, guided by the people we serve, working in partnership with others to enhance the quality of life for all. Our values of community, teamwork, integrity, quality services, and ambition underpin everything we do.

More information about the council’s arts and culture opportunities and partnership working can be found on their website:

New Forest District Council has contributed funding towards this project from their allocation of the Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda, which provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

For more information, visit

About Leigh Johnstone:

Leigh Johnstone, also known as “The Beardy Gardener”, is a Southampton based theatre director turned gardener and award-winning garden designer who rediscovered his passion for plants during the Covid-19 pandemic. He is popular on social media and an active mental health campaigner, using his past struggles to advocate for the power of gardening to improve wellbeing. Leigh has appeared on BBC Gardeners’ World, BBC News, Radio 5 Live, and LBC.

He writes for various national newspapers including The Mirror and The Telegraph and is a contributor to several popular horticultural and wellbeing podcasts.

About Culture in Common:

Culture in Common is part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme (CPP). Creative People and Places is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating, and taking part in arts and culture experiences in the places where they live. There are 33 projects, each located in a place where people previously had less opportunity to take part in arts and culture.

Find out more on the Culture in Common website:

About the New Forest National Park Authority:

Protect – Enjoy – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
  • We also have a duty to:
  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment, and discovery.

Visit to find out more.

New Forest National Park Authority has contributed funding for this project from its Youth for Climate and Nature (YouCAN) scheme, which is supported by The National Lottery Community Fund and aimed at inspiring and encouraging a deeper connection to nature and care for the environment.

Newsletter Image





Six free walking routes when you sign up for New Forest Newsletter

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

By entering your email below you are consenting to us sending you newsletters. To unsubscribe, email More info:

I think you mistyped your email
Your interests (tick at least one)

Please select one

By signing up to this form you are consenting to receive emails from us. Each email will contain a link to your personal reference settings where you can opt-out or change which emails you receive from us. Please read our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use data.

Subscribe to New Forest National Park Authority

Thanks, your subscription has been confirmed. You've been added to our list and your New Forest walking pack is on its way to you, including a link to download our free app.