Chelsea garden unveiled at permanent home

How a show garden got a new lease of life at a donkey sanctuary

Garden at The Donkey SanctuaryA garden that featured at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show has been successfully relocated to a permanent home at The Donkey Sanctuary. 

The Donkey Sanctuary: Donkeys Matter, designed by Christina Williams and Annie Prebensen, has been rebuilt at the charity’s international headquarters in Devon. The garden is now open to the public and is free of charge for visitors.
The design was the winner of the People’s Choice Award for the Artisan Garden category in 2019 and was also awarded an RHS Silver medal by the judges. It showcased the charity's international work and celebrated 50 years of transforming the lives of donkeys and mules.

Joanna Lumley poses with a donkey in The Donkey Sanctuary garden at Chelsea
The garden is now thriving in its new home. The design illustrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. A well in the centre of the garden reinforces this message, with the garden telling the story of the donkey’s journey from a wooden shelter through hot, dry landscapes to its place of work in agriculture or water collection.

The planting also reflects the dry conditions donkeys live in and includes drought-tolerant plants such as Mediterranean sea holly, Iris ‘Langport Wren’ and lavender ‘Hidcote’. The colour palette is purple and silver, with bright, vibrant flowers bringing beauty and colour to the garden’s harsh surroundings. The trees in the space include pine and cypress. 

This summer, visitors to The Donkey Sanctuary have been able to buy similar plants to those featured in its garden as well as being able to learn about conservation projects across the charity’s farms and its supported charities worldwide.

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Read our interview with the designers


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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.