Battlefields to Butterflies

Feature Garden

Did you know...

  • The artefacts found in the landscape, such as the barbed wire, wheels from gun carriages and horseshoes, are genuine relics from the battlefields of the First World War. The landscape was dressed with the relics by members of the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment Living History
  • Staff and apprentices from Her Majesty's Royal Parks built the garden on a 40m x 25m area using soil from the site, trees from Hampton Court Park and 800 sandbags. Wattle retaining walls were made on site
  • The meadow, which represents hope and re-growth, has been created out of meadow turf. It has been plugged with plants that featured in wartime artist and writer William Orpen's poems and paintings – they include loosestrife, cranesbill and poppies
  • The finale to the garden is a poignant memorial to the men of the Royal Parks who lost their lives. Twenty-four ceramic poppies, from the 2014 installation 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' at the Tower of London, are planted among the wildflowers. A slate plaque records their names and the park where they were employed

About the garden

This garden pays tribute to the 24 men of the Royal Parks and Palace gardens who lost their lives in the First World War. The tribute echoes the work of William Orpen, a wartime artist and writer, who was at the Somme in 1917. Returning to the trenches later, he observed the desolation and destruction of war being taken over by Mother Nature, depicting the scene in his paintings and writings.

This feature is made up of two spaces. First, a raw, desolate scene depicting the trenches, and the second, a landscape awash with trees and flowers. In this, the 100th anniversary of the War, a stone plaque will be unveiled at the show, and eventually taken to Brompton Cemetery to form part of a permanent memorial to the parks, gardens and grounds staff from across the UK who were lost in the Great War.

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.