A 35-year-old gardener who turned a balcony into a garden will exhibit his work at the Chelsea Flower Show

Restaurant manager, 35, who transformed his flat 18th-floor balcony into a lush oasis during lockdown is selected to showcase ‘small-scale gardening’ at the Chelsea Flower Show

  • Jason Williams, 35, has transformed his garden with a flat balcony on the 18th floor in Manchester
  • He worked as a restaurant manager before the first lockdown in March 2020
  • Says tending to his ‘cloud garden’ has helped him cope throughout the pandemic
  • He will exhibit his work at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022 in May this year

A man who transformed the balcony of his 18th floor apartment into a lush garden during the pandemic will exhibit his work at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Jason Williams, 35, worked as a restaurant manager before the first lockdown in March 2020 and started gardening on his balcony in Manchester city center as a hobby to improve his mental health.

Struggling to find resources to help grow in such a small space, Jason started his own social media and YouTube channels to document his work and offer advice to hopeful gardeners.

After being encouraged by his supporters to apply for this year’s event, the gardener won a place displaying his work, titled The Cirrus Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The show, which takes place in May, will feature small balcony and container gardens for the second consecutive year after first recognizing the category in 2021 due to the influx of quarantined gardeners.

Jason Williams, 35, from Manchester transformed his flat 18th floor balcony into a lush garden during the pandemic

Share the news with his followers on his Cloud Gardener Youtube account, Jason said, “Honestly, I can’t believe this is coming true. I just want to thank everyone who follows me for pushing me because without you I wouldn’t even have put pen to paper and started the application process, so thank you very much.

He explained: “Thanks to the lockdown in March 2020 I started to turn my balcony into a little garden, it started with a marigold. Then it became this.

“I started my YouTube and social media platforms just to show people what you can do with a little space. I also document the hardships and challenges of growing so tall, but also how my garden has helped my mental health.

Jason started gardening on his balcony in Manchester city center as a hobby to improve his mental health.  In the photo, flowers and plants grow on the balcony of the gardener's city

Jason started gardening on his balcony in Manchester city center as a hobby to improve his mental health. In the photo, flowers and plants grow on the balcony of the gardener’s city

Jason's Cirrus Garden is said to be the culmination of the best elements of Jason's balcony oasis, The Cloud Garden (pictured)

Jason’s Cirrus Garden is said to be the culmination of the best elements of Jason’s balcony oasis, The Cloud Garden (pictured)

The garden is inspired by Cirrus clouds, which are the highest in the atmosphere and are meant to be the culmination of the best elements of Jason’s balcony oasis, The Cloud Garden.

It will include herbs, salads, vegetables, wildflowers and a fish pond to help fertilize the garden.

The plants will come from Chorlton Plant Nursery in Manchester and volunteers from Jason’s Facebook balcony gardening group will help with the build as well as being on hand to help during the event itself.

Sharing his good news on Instagram earlier this week, Jason wrote: ‘I hope The Cirrus Garden acts as a beacon of light and hope on our own planet to show what can be done now, by little gardeners from space.

“Helping show that small-space gardeners can positively impact urban biodiversity, achieve some semblance of sustainability, and reap health/mental illness benefits by connecting with nature.”

Jason, pictured in his balcony garden, explained how his gardening benefited his mental health when he was furloughed during the lockdown

Jason, pictured in his balcony garden, explained how his gardening benefited his mental health when he was furloughed during the lockdown

Jason is an ambassador for Thrive, a charity that helps people with disabilities through social and therapeutic horticulture, and will be bringing representatives from the organization to the event.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Jason explained how his gardening benefited his mental health when he was furloughed during the lockdown.

“Suddenly gardening became this form of escapism,” he said. “Now I don’t like to use words like struggle or battle, but for me mental health is an issue.

“Sometimes getting out and going to the garden and focusing on something else really helps me achieve a goal for the day or just get some fresh air.”

“Sometimes when you’re dealing with anxiety it’s really hard to do simple things like get out of bed or open the door and go out and I’ve found that my balcony has become my own form of safe space, like a refuge or a little oasis”.