Gardens highlight the challenge of changing climate

Designers focus on environment and sustainability at the world’s most famous flower show

Gardens highlighting ways to combat climate change will take centre stage at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2020, sponsored by M&G, in next year’s garden line-up.

As the climate crisis continues to escalate, a number of global brands and garden designers will use the world’s most famous flower show as a platform to encourage a future where we live in harmony with nature through urban design and sustainable practices.

Introducing some of the gardens for 2020

The M&G Garden

In just thirty years it is predicted that a third of the world’s population will live in cities. With this in mind award-winning design duo Hugo Bugg and Charlotte Harris have designed a communal residential garden for show sponsor M&G as they return to Main Avenue. Their design promotes the need to incorporate and maintain beautiful, sustainable green spaces in our growing cities for the benefit of the planet and people. The M&G Garden highlights how communities and designers are working together to address this challenge by creating gardens in neglected city spaces. Sustainability is woven through the design by using repurposed materials, water management techniques, permeable surfaces and a planting palette defined by resilient plants suitable for the climatic challenges of urban spaces.

Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden
The Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden by first-time Show Garden designers Peter Chmiel and Chin-Jung Chen of Grant Associates, provides a similar narrative, a city garden of the future that balances the needs of both people and wildlife while sustaining the planet's health and promoting a move towards a new ‘ecological civilization’. The garden features a woodland dell to clean the air, a pool to clean water and bamboo structures which represent homes for humans and wildlife.

The Facebook Garden: Growing the Future
With deforestation central to the climate crisis The Facebook Garden: Growing the Future looks at the benefits of increasing the UK’s tree cover while highlighting the need for better woodland management. Using timber in various forms, Chelsea Gold medal-winning designer Joe Perkins hopes to showcase timber’s renewable and sustainable properties as the garden shows how social media platforms help share knowledge and empower others to plant more trees and support sustainable woodlands and timber use.

The Yeo Valley Organic Garden
Britain’s largest organic dairy company, Yeo Valley hopes to encourage the UK’s 27 million gardeners to consider going organic and put nature first. The Yeo Valley Organic Garden, designed by award-winning designer Tom Massey, has been created with sustainability front and centre. Where possible the plants will be grown organically, while the carbon used to create the wildlife-friendly Show Garden will also be offset at Yeo Valley’s farm in Somerset.

Designers across all categories this year have taken steps to be more sustainable in their garden designs. An increased number are sourcing their plants and materials from within the UK, incorporating planting schemes which benefit wildlife and the environment.   

The Florence Nightingale Garden: A Celebration of Modern-Day Nursing
Timber is championed as the building material of choice for a number of garden structures due to its green, carbon-locking credentials. Contractors are working with designers to adopt alternative construction methods and opting for sustainable hard landscaping materials in a bid to avoid single use materials such as cement and concrete. Award-winning designer Robert Myers and his contractor Bowels and Wyer are experimenting with a new, more sustainable ‘wood’ concrete among other sustainable materials in The Florence Nightingale Garden: A Celebration of Modern-Day Nursing while every element from the reclaimed brick walls to the artwork in the Bicester Village Shopping Collection – Inspired Artisan Garden, designed by renowned florist Nikki Tibbles, has been sustainably sourced.

Bicester Village Shopping Collection – Inspired

Rose Gore Browne, RHS Chelsea Flower Show Manager said:

‘This time of year is always exciting as the themes and trends for 2020 begin to emerge, as gardens and horticulture are key to helping combat climate change, it is very encouraging to see a number of gardens addressing these issues and more designers adopting suitable practices.’

Great change in the Pavilion

Display inside the Great Pavilion

Growers at the heart of the show in the Great Pavilion are being directly impacted by climate change as environmental changes such as extreme weather conditions are affecting their plants and growing methods. To lessen their impact on the environment a number of growers and nurseries exhibiting this year have made positive changes by, for example, going peat free, growing in bio-degradable pots, switching from chemical to biological pest controls and harvesting rainwater for irrigation.

Bio-degradable pots Collecting rainwater

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