The Plantman’s Ice Garden

Sanctuary Gardens
Since 1994, 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the surface of the planet and all-summer ice is scheduled to disappear within the next 20 years. This permafrost holds around 1.5 million trillion tonnes of carbon.

Forests, plants and ice currently insulate the ground below, but more frequent fires, rising temperatures and higher rainfalls are stripping this layer of protection. As the ice melts, the enormous carbon bank of decomposed organic matter is released. The melting substrate often undermines tree roots giving rise to the appearance of ‘drunken forests’.

While melting permafrost offers an immediate threat, it also contains a historic botanical treasure chest. In 2012, Russian scientists discovered and successfully germinated a cache of Silene stenophylla seeds, thought to have been buried more than 30,000 years ago. It is hoped that this dormant seedbank might hold the genetic code to help develop sustainable crops, medicine and biofuel adapted to climate change.

The monolithic ice cube is a reminder of the climate perils facing our planet, while offering hope that the botanical bounty found within might ensure humankind’s onward survival.

BBC / RHS People’s Choice Award

The votes have been counted – did your favourite gardens win?

All Show Gardens

Get involved

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.