RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gardens Reduce their Carbon footprint

All large gardens at this year’s show have gone through a Green Garden Audit to reduce environmental footprint, and the RHS Announces NEW ‘Environmental Innovation Award’ to celebrate sustainable innovations adopted in Show and Sanctuary Gardens at RHS Chelsea.

For the first time in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has introduced a Green Garden Audit which all gardens in the Show and Sanctuary categories this year have been through in order to reduce their carbon footprint and environmental impact. Design changes implemented as a result of gardens going through the new audit process had a significant impact reducing carbon emissions across the two categories by 28%.

Nicholsons, the company commissioned by the RHS to carry out the audit alongside RHS Head of Sustainability Malcolm Anderson reviewed the garden design and build plans in terms of a broad range of sustainability criteria including material selection, waste, biodiversity and ecology, water and air and then worked with the designers and contractors to make workable changes to their plans in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the gardens.

Malcolm Anderson, RHS Head of Sustainability said: ‘As the UK’s leading gardening charity we have been making positive changes across the organisation and at our shows to make our practices more sustainable and this is just one example of the progress we are making this year as we continue to make changes to reduce our environmental impact.  Last year we added sustainability criteria at selection stage to ensure, where possible, that designers have thought about the environmental impact of their gardens at the design stage, the introduction of the audit this year helps us take this one step further, enabling us to better understand the carbon footprint of the gardens at the show and challenge designers and landscapers to consider ways they could  further reduce their impact whilst also opening up the conversation within the horticultural industry on how we can create gardens more sustainability in the future.’ 

The biggest reduction in carbon emissions for many of the gardens was achieved by making changes to the building materials selected as well as construction methods.  For example, Matthew Childs who is designing the Terrance Higgin’s Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden massively reduced his carbon omissions by removing block walling in his original design and replacing it with reclaimed timber whilst Ann-Marie Powell designing The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust saved a large amount of Co2 by significantly reducing the use of cement in her garden.

Liz Nicholson, Managing Director at Nicholsons who was instrumental in the delivery of the audit said:  ’All of the designers without exception have welcomed the audit and embraced the learnings and worked incredibly hard to adapt and tweak their gardens to reduce the impacts. Many design with the planet in mind and very few changes were necessary. But even these celebrated designers discovered one or two new opportunities and were open minded to tweak their designs. Designers felt that this process would affect how they design in future and were keen to take their learnings back to their practices. A significant impact in conversations with contractors was how the use of low carbon cement and alternative construction methods were welcomed and knowledge was shared in the round.’ 

This year to recognise and celebrate the examples of excellence in progressive environmental ingenuity at the show, the RHS is introducing a new award ‘The Environmental Innovation Award’ open to all gardens who have been through the Green Garden Audit.
Sarah Poll, Head of Shows Development said: ‘We have introduced this new award in order to recognise and celebrate the fantastic ways designers and contractors are embracing the need to reduce their impact on the environment. The RHS has a responsibility to take a leading role in encouraging everyone to progress and drive environmental innovation and collaborate with the industry to make positive, sustainable changes.  We hope by celebrating successes through this new award at our world-famous flower show and showing how small changes can make a big difference through the new Green Garden Audit we will help continue to encourage positive change.’
RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 21-25 May 2024 and tickets are available online at

Notes to editors

For more information, interviews and images please contact the Shows PR Team at [email protected]
Notes to Editors
RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsored by The Newt in Somerset
Dates: 21-25 May 2024
Location: Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4SR    
Tickets from £37.00 (plus admin fee)                                                                                                 
About the RHS
Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science. 

We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.  

Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.
Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings. For more information visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262
About Nicholsons
Nicholsons is a well-established family business based in North Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. Employing 200 members of staff, they offer consultancy in ecology, arboriculture, forestry, garden design and landscape architecture. Passionate about the planet, Nicholsons is driven by improving education and the environment. Working hard at home to reduce impacts on climate and nature, Nicholsons has enjoyed sharing learnings to engage  the horticultural industry in reducing climate impacts.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.