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RHS COP26 Garden: Mitigation

See design techniques, planting and landscaping used to improve the local habitat and help combat climate change


This gorgeous garden of mixed planting was teeming with wildlife and provided a counter-balance to the degradation of the Decline quarter.

Like the other zones, the area was designed in a spiral around the central feature of the Universal WIndow Box and demonstrated several different ways in which we can all tackle climate change. 

At the front, different soil profiles and composts were displayed in giant test tubes, demonstrating the importance of a healthy growing medium and how it can be improved. Visitors were invited to imagine the worms and other fauna working away underground to improve soil health.

Behind this, a swale planted with a mixture of grasses suitable for dry or damp areas was constructed to demonstrate a flood prevention technique. Rather than holding the water back and releasing it in a great wave like traditional flood prevention techniques, a swale slows and controls surface run-off, filtering it back into the ground.

This not only reduces the risk of flooding downstream but also filters out pollutants and provides a habitat for damp-tolerant plants.

Beyond the swale a pond with reeds, irises, Pontederia cordata and other plants provided a haven for wildlife while also helping control potential flood water.

The pond lead into a meadow where the mix of grasses and flowers including buddleia, echinaceas and cosmos was perfect for pollinators.

This quarter was finished off with a glorious, small but environmentally-friendly green front garden bursting with colour with gaura, asters, fox gloves and more. A permeable terrace interplanted with low-growing plants such as Erigeron karvinskianus (Mexican fleabane) and bee hives provide further inspiration for the environmentally conscious.

This last area was directly inspired by the work of the RHS campaign Greening Great Britain, working to encourage everyone to grow more in any setting.

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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.