The Royal Horticultural Society has revealed the shortlist for its first ever RHS Chelsea Sustainable Garden Product of the Year Award as the world-famous show strives to promote and highlight the increasing importance of sustainability within the horticultural industry.
As part of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsored by M&G, the Garden Product of the Year Competition will this year place prominence on entrants’ green credentials bringing sustainability to the forefront. The ten shortlisted products* will be judged against a criteria that takes into consideration their carbon footprint, environmental best practice, durability, biodegradability and recyclability as well as design innovation, functionality and quality.
The refreshed competition reflects the increasing awareness of gardeners and their preference to use more environmentally friendly products and practices in their gardens to help minimise their impact on the planet.
Many of the shortlisted products promote the use of alternative, more sustainable materials gardeners can use. Addressing the serious issues surrounding the use of peat in the horticultural industry and the drive to use peat-free alternatives, the Dalefoot Wool Compost with Comfrey champions an alternative peat-free media with a blend of comfrey, bracken and sheep’s wool sourced only from the UK to offer gardeners a sustainable option to their growing.
Meanwhile other finalists look at creative ways to produce their products by re-using waste materials. Reflecting the increasing concern over plastic waste in our oceans, Ocean Plastic Pots and Distinctive Garden’s DuraOcean® Chair both highlight the plastic pollution crisis with products that make use of the plastic waste collected from oceans such as old fishing nets, ropes and debris.
Some products in the shortlist also consider ways to reduce water wastage. Last year’s winner Vegepod returns with a new Vegebag. Awarded RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year in 2020 to help gardeners grow their own edibles in small spaces, the new entry features a revised more sustainable design with a new wicking bed and water reservoir to reduce wastage as well as using more durable materials and packaged in fully recyclable cardboard.
Also offering an effective way to grow in small spaces, PlantBox provides a stackable and modular living wall system. Made from 100% recycled materials in Norfolk, it allows gardeners to grow vertically while water usage can be managed with the integrated reservoir and a trough to collect excess water. The stackable design allows it to be moved to new locations to encourage reusability.
Green Oak’s Composting Loo provides a basic yet fundamental function. The readily transportable frame is made from pine and offers a water kind alternative to public loos; following the increase in gardening over the last year, it offers an environmentally friendly option for allotments and community gardens.
Others selected in the shortlist include Sneeboer Maintenance Kit to care and increase the lifespan of your garden tools and reduce the need to replace items; Twool Naked, a naturally coloured and durable British wool garden twine; Gaze Burvill’s Woodland Low Oval Table crafted in the UK; and a robotic lawnmower from Platts Horticulture that produces zero emissions.
Chairman of the judging panel and sustainability expert Chris Harrop OBE says: “This year’s shortlist shows that manufacturers are bringing to market sustainable new products that address the challenges that are facing us all; climate change, plastics and pollution and the need to ensure that products are ethically sourced whilst still allowing consumers to enjoy their love of gardening in all its forms.”
Katherine Potsides, Head of RHS Shows Development, says: “After ten successful years of the ‘RHS Chelsea Garden Product of the Year’ competition we felt now was the time to turn the focus to sustainability with an aim to help promote eco-friendly and ethical consumerism within the gardening sector. We received some really fantastic and innovative entries into this year’s competition and the huge variety of products entered demonstrates the desire across the industry to become more environmentally friendly.”
The shortlist will be assessed by a team of experts including entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden. Despite the postponement of this year’s RHS Chelsea to September, the competition is continuing to take place within its usual time frames and the winning product will be announced during the RHS Virtual Chelsea Flower Show (17-21 May)**. Shortlisted products will also be on display in the Great Pavilion at the September show.