Entomologists from the RHS and Royal Entomological Society (RES) will carry out Flower-Insect Timed (FIT) counts1
of any insects landing on pollinator favourites in the garden, such as angelica, hawthorn and borage. The data gathered will add to a growing body of evidence illustrating the importance of gardens for wildlife. Recorders also hope to demonstrate the feast the thousands of flowers at RHS Chelsea put on for pollinators in the area each year, with the Flower Show providing an additional late-spring food source for the insects.
The RES Garden, designed by Tom Massey and supported by Project Giving Back, will show how remarkable the insect world is and raise awareness of the interdependent relationships insects have with humans. The garden features a unique outdoor laboratory, inspired by a compound insect eye, to view and examine insects up close, alongside wildlife-friendly features including pools, dead wood and planting designed for pollinators. Hawthorn, Judas tree and quince are all trees that provide an important nectar source for pollinators and will be growing within a species-rich planting scheme, including plants often found thriving on brownfield sites such as dandelions and clover.
Visitors to the show will see entomologists carrying out their counts every day at Chelsea in the afternoons and they will be available to talk to show-goers about the insects they are recording and that have visited the garden. An AI moth trap, supplied and operated by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, will help record night time visitors to the garden, while Bakers Consultants are installing a ‘soil listening station’ to record and analyse the sounds generated by microscopic insects and other invertebrates within the soil as an indication of its biodiversity and health.
Dr Hayley Jones, RHS Senior Entomologist, said
: “We are really looking forward to carrying out counts of pollinators at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, showing what a difference gardeners can make for wildlife on their patch. It’s great to join forces with the RES to highlight and study our amazing garden insects. Flying pollinators are adapted to make use of short-lived flowers, but we’re very curious to see how many pollinators make the most of the floral feast at Chelsea.”
Fran Sconce, Senior Outreach & Learning Officer at Royal Entomological Society, added:
“It’s so important that we show entomology in action to inspire and enthuse a new generation of insect scientists and we’re thrilled to be working alongside colleagues from the RHS to do just that on our garden at Chelsea this year.”
The Chelsea gardens also go on to be a lasting resource for pollinators. For example, in 2022 the RHS and BBC Earth partnered to create the BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden at Chelsea, filled with pollinator-friendly plants, which went to live on at St George’s Church of England Primary School in Camberwell. To demonstrate the importance of the garden for pollinating insects an AgriSound Polly machine was installed at the school. The device automatically measures pollinator activity in the garden and has shown that on average the garden enjoys 78 bee visits each day, and since installation last autumn the garden has hosted over 2,000 pollinators.
Founder and CEO of AgriSound, Casey Woodward, said:
"We are thrilled to see the Royal Entomological Society and the RHS continue to support pollinators and collect vital data to ensure that we can protect these important insects. Data collected at St George’s Church of England Primary School by our monitoring device has helped to show the impact that gardens can play in protecting pollinators and will dovetail with the manual insect counting being performed at Chelsea this year."
Thanks to funding from Project Giving Back and in partnership with Lendlease, the RES Garden will live on after the show at IQL Stratford as a lasting resource for urban insects and an inspiring place for learning about insects for many years to come.
A limited number of tickets to RHS Chelsea Flower Show are currently still available: www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea