St James’s Piccadilly: Imagine the World to be Different

Show Gardens

The show garden pays homage to the revitalising influence of urban green spaces, symbolising a message of hope and recovery while igniting the imagination of future generations to envision a different world.

Upon entering through an archway reminiscent of the proposed gateways leading to the churchyard at St James’s Piccadilly, visitors step into a contemplative haven. Here, nature takes centre stage with a lush, biodiverse planting scheme.

This tranquil, introspective space serves as a sanctuary for urban dwellers and city wildlife. For visitors to sit, stroll, and immerse themselves in the sensory delights of dappled shade, multi-layered verdant landscapes, and soothing water features.

The garden exhibits a diverse selection of climate-resilient trees, offering a place of restoration for those searching for peace and inspiration and a circular, sculptural timber counselling cabin sits among the foliage.

At a glance:

Who is this garden for? 
The garden is for all visitors to St James’s
Where is the garden set?  
Who or what is the design inspiration?
Nature’s reclaiming of old bomb sites

As a nod to the ambience of St James's, the ‘borrowed’ plane trees of the RHS Chelsea Show garden are reminiscent of the trees in today’s church garden, inviting people to unite and nurture the tradition of 'conversations under trees.’

The garden celebrates the significance of urban 'pocket parks' in London and other cities, often connected with historic churchyards, some bearing the scars of wartime bombing yet refusing to yield to destruction. These spaces have been reimagined as biodiverse and slightly eclectic garden sanctuaries, representing a harmonious blend of history and ecological vibrancy.

The garden's inspiration extends to the resilient ‘pioneer plants’ that found a foothold in the ruins of St James’s after wartime bombings. These seeds, carried by the wind, represented new hope and growth. Seven such species will feature in the garden, serving as a reminder of nature's resilience and its capacity for regeneration.

Key sustainability points:

  • The main wall elements will be constructed using rammed earth rather than concrete or blockwork. Concrete used will be cement free
  • No use of peat based materials
  • Careful calculations on material requirements will save on waste. The design has taken into account waste and 90% of the materials will be taken to the legacy garden or recycled to other projects
  • Use of suppliers local to the showground, and avoiding importing trees and plants from nurseries abroad


Following the show, the plants will enrich the garden at St James's partner church, St Pancras Euston Road. And, in time, the sculptural counselling cabin and other hard landscaping features will be installed in the restored garden in Piccadilly​ as part of The Wren Project.

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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.