Regeneration Gardens

Quirky designs on a budget featuring recycled everyday materials - what's not to love about our new category of garden?

The Regeneration Gardens were created to get us thinking about the challenges we face as gardeners, and to give show visitors practical ideas and original tips on how to update our surroundings without a huge outlay of cash.

This new category demonstrated how everyday materials can be recycled to help transform spaces and how even small changes to the way we garden can make a big difference to our environment.

Here's the line-up of gardens in this category:

The Reimagined Past

Illustration of Pam Creed's The Reimagined Past garden

Designer Pam Creed's deconstructed Victorian garden was a space of contemplation set among household items, recycled fireplaces and drain covers from the 19th century. Paving, walls, garden furniture and containers were made out of materials discarded during the modernisation of local houses.

The inner garden had an air of Victorian formality with its visual representation of a parterre, leading out to less formal planting of perennials suited to growing in South Wales - ideal if you want to know the type of plant that will thrive in local gardens.

Pam's feature plants:

  • Ferns
  • Hellebores
  • Aquilegias

The garden's take-home ideas:

  • Experiment with gratings and drain covers as paving
  • Transform troughs and cisterns into water features
  • Remember to include wildlife-friendly planting

The Reflection in the Past Garden

Illustration of Shin Myung Ja's The Reflection in the Past GardenAn interpretation of a sensory garden by designer Shin Myung Ja placed re-purposed domestic items in a modern setting, where happy memories of bathtubs, bubbles and flowers formed the basis of its thought-provoking, contemporary layout.

Shin took everyday objects that we give little thought to, and transformed them into sophisticated accents in an elegant design, to make visitors think about them in a different way.

Shin's top feature plants:

  • Acer griseum
  • Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
  • Helleborous x hybridus Harvington double red

The garden's take-home idea:

  • Reuse everyday objects in a new way – think bathtubs as ornaments and umbrella ribs or coat hangers as art.

Urban Regeneration

Illustration of Millie Souter's Urban Regeneration GardenDesigned by Millie Souter using inexpensive and easily accessible materials in an imaginative way, the main features of this garden were the disused water tanks, which were found on a farm while on a walk in Scotland.

A matrix of mixed grass and herbaceous planting inspired by steppe planting (a naturalistic planting based on European grasslands that are found on dry, infertile soil) contrasted with the clean lines of the tabletop Morus alba (white mulberry) and the formality of the hard landscaping design. The garden was intended to illustrate that with a little imagination and a small budget, an urban setting can be improved and regenerated, which in turn vastly improves the quality of life for the residents.

The colour scheme was butter-yellow to highlight the arrival of spring, and the planting was set out as a matrix, loosely based on steppe planting. Steppe planting involves a backdrop of tough, drought-tolerant grasses peppered, in this case, with spring-flowering herbaceous plants and bulbs. The plants are tough and require little maintenance.

Millie's top feature plants:

  • Aponogeton distachyos
  • Sesleria nitida
  • Plantain lanceolota

The garden's take-home ideas:

  • Use inexpensive and accessible materials to create a garden without a huge budget.
  • Carefully chosen Industrial materials can create a beautiful effect.

More ideas on transforming your environment

For more ideas on making the most of your surroundings, find out more about the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign.

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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.