Celebrating 50 years of conservation
Words: Lynne Maxwell, RHS Online
Fiona Stephenson is clearly the right choice by the World Wildlife Fund to design its chalk stream garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show - not only is her own garden on chalk, but she lives in Chalk Lane and she is a former gold medal winner at the show.
'I didn't know anything about chalk stream habitats before I started this project,' she admits. But now she has created a working version of her show garden at home as a trial run.
'What makes a chalk stream unique is that it is fed by underground springs rather than rainwater, and the water is filtered through chalk aquifers so it's very clear. Chalk streams are also fast flowing and tend to be flat so it's quite a design challenge,' she says.
It's a challenge she'll have to overcome live at the show as there's no time for another dummy run and the first attempt revealed that she needed to create a much greater body of water.
The WWF aims to highlight its water conservation work in the UK with this garden, which celebrates the charity's 50th anniversary. Excessive water consumption is destroying precious habitats.
'It's known as abstracted water,' explains Fiona. 'So the idea of water became abstract in my mind. At first the stream looks like quite a natural habitat but as you get closer you see that it goes down a plughole and a sinuous line of 50 spheres represent different amounts of water used, for example to fill a bath or flush a loo.
'This garden has had a long lead-up; I've done little else since March. Hampton is a great show to be part of and I'm really looking forward to it, mixed with a little trepidation!'