One of the panels I’ve been sitting on here in Rio has been addressing CSR (corporate social responsibility) in the luxury space. It can often be tricky to find case studies where a company’s CSR activity feels properly integrated into the heart of the business — not only the marketing budget — with benefit across not just fundraising, but awareness, empowerment AND legacy too.
So I was thrilled to be able to talk about the opening last week of the Old English Garden at Battersea Park, sponsored by Jo Malone (the company, not the person which are now two separate things), and planted and maintained by the gardening charity Thrive, under the design of Sarah Price.
Jo Malone could just have picked on this neglected garden at Battersea, commissioned a planting scheme, promoted it to the press, and left it at that. But instead, they partnered with a small national charity, Thrive, founded in 1978, that uses gardening to change the lives of disabled people, and committed to the ongoing gardening project, thus fulfilling all the CSR objectives listed above.
Gardening can help individuals accomplish many things. It can help rebuild a person’s strength after an accident or illness, and can provide a purposeful activity for someone coping with a difficult period in their life. Thrive’s activities are varied but focus on championing the benefits of gardening to individuals and organisations, as well as teaching techniques and practical applications so that anyone with a disability can take part and enjoy gardening. A research programme underpins Thrive’s work to provide evidence and improve understanding.
Jo Malone put an invisible awning up over the pergola and invited 30 or so journalists and editors to breakfast to experience the garden for themselves.
(I was rather taken with the waitstaffs’ Dr Marten floral footwear.)
The garden is clever in that it hasn’t been subordinated in any way to Jo Malone branding. There are a very few plaques in the beds, each pointing the visitor to various horticultural ingredients: I spotted rose, pomegranate and basil.
The planting is ravishing; great drifts of pink and of white Valerian look romantic and so pretty. As the seasons change, so will the flowers and I look forward to returning during the summer to see how the garden is evolving.
The garden is open to anyone — for free — and is the most glorious space for just sitting, thinking and reading. Do go check it out.
Jo Malone have plans to take this concept, & roll it out across other territories, so I’m excited to see where they go next with this.