Green Gardening At RHS Flower Shows

Posted on: 13 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Find inspiration and advice at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton in 2008 to create your own eco-friendly garden.

With climate change hitting the headlines, there is more reason than ever for gardeners to think green when they garden. From cutting edge technology to going back to basics, the 2008 RHS flower shows can provide gardeners across the country with inspiration and practical tips to suit them and their patch of green.


Gardeners looking to embrace contemporary design and cutting edge technology can look towards the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sponsored by Marshalls Plc, taking place from 20th to 24th May in London, for ideas.

"Northeast @ Home" designed by Penny Denoon and John Carmichael and sponsored by Home Group Ltd and One NortheastResearch shows that the UK is forecast drier, hotter summers, and milder, wetter winters, so rainwater collection can help keep gardens looking healthy over the summer months. The 'North East England @ Home' garden at Chelsea will show visitors how rainwater can be harvested and transported along a series of cobble-filled rills to a rainwater reservoir for irrigation. The garden also uses a permeable resin bound aggregate which allows rainwater to disperse into the ground, helping sustain the water table and avoid local flooding.

'The Children's Society Garden' tackles the environmental issues of modern, urban life with a contemporary garden designed around the bicycle, rather than the car. Cycles can be locked and stored vertically on the house façade, protected from the elements by a cantilevered porch. The design also incorporates a water butt built into the architecture of the house, for water harvesting and irrigation.

A tall, structural wind turbine stands proud above a grove of silver birch trees in 'The Lloyds TSB Garden' and provides power for the home and garden. Designer Trevor Tooth says, "A wind turbine is a bold statement in a garden, but by embracing its sculptural design it can be a more than just a tool for harnessing energy."

Hampton Court Palace

The change in climate predicted by scientists means that gardeners must adapt their ways of gardening. The 2008 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, sponsored by Rachel's Organic, taking place from 8th to 13th July in Surrey, will show visitors the gardens of the future, and offers practical advice about gardening with the changing environment.

The 'Back to the Future' garden from Send a Cow, provides a glimpse into what life could be like in the UK in 2058, and looks to Africa for solutions to surviving in an increasingly hostile climate. Similarly, 'Future Garden' designed for the London Wildlife Trust demonstrates a garden 50 years in the future. It features some of the new wildlife we might expect to find in the UK as a result of climate change including Camberwell Beauty Butterfly, Southern Emerald Dautelfly, Golden Oniole, Kuhl's Pipistrelle and a Wasp Spider.

As the climate changes, plants such as hardy palms and gingers could become more commonplace in the garden. Visitors to the show will be able to find out more about what the future holds for both climate and gardens in the Climate Change Dome where experts from the RHS and the Met Office will give visitors a look into the future.

Tatton Park

Gardeners wanting to get back to basics and work with wildlife to create a more diverse, natural environment can find inspiration at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, taking palce from 23th to 27th July, in Cheshire.

'Butterfly Journey' designed for Chester Zoo will show visitors how to create a butterfly friendly garden. All of the plants have been selected to provide food or nectar for butterflies, and other features in the garden, such as a reclaimed brick wall with recesses, will act as hibernation sites for the butterflies.

Gardeners may also be encouraged to keep chickens after visiting the show at Tatton Park, as the 'Ladies That Lunch' garden, sponsored by Manchester City Council, extols the benefits of keeping chickens for more than just their eggs. As well as controlling pests, chickens can feed on kitchen scraps, cutting down on waste and producing garden compost. Strong fragrance planting, such as lavender, lemon geraniums, peppermint, chives and basil deter chickens from roaming, helping to keep them safe.

Greener Gardening

Being a greener gardener needn't be a life altering experience. With ideas for every kind of garden, the 2008 RHS flower shows will help gardeners, from amateur to expert, get a little greener this summer.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show attracts some of the world's best garden designers, who help transform the grounds of the Royal Hospital into the spectacular gardens that inspire visitors and set the season's gardening trends. This year, the RHS has picked the designers' brains to find out what they think should be a gardener's number one priority when it comes to going green.

Right Plant, Right Place

The show and small garden designers' undisputed number one tip for greener gardening, is “right plant, right place”.

Lady Arabella Lennox-Boyd, designer of The Daily Telegraph Garden says, "It is the site that dictates it all. In both my own garden and gardens for clients, I like working with nature rather than against it. I try to use plants that don't need much maintenance, and never suggest plants that are unsuited to the pH or conditions of the garden."

"A Cadogan Garden" designed by Robert Myers and sponsored by Cadogan EstatesSave & Recycle Water

Water features strongly in 'A Cadogan Garden' and designer Robert Myers cites recycling grey water for irrigation as one of his top environmentally responsible gardening tips.

Compost Waste

Geoff Whiten, who designed Real Life by Brett says, "Composting is something that everyone can do to help the environment, and that compost can then be used to help your garden grow. Get the soil right and the rest will follow - it's the perfect example of recycling and reusing."

Re-Use & Recycle

Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith, designers of The Good Gifts Garden say, "Use as many reclaimed materials in the garden as you can, especially hard landscaping materials. Old bricks and paving slabs always look better than new ones!"

Go Local

Sue Hayward, who designed the Motor Neurone Disease - Shetland Croft House Garden says, "Try to support local nurseries where they produce their own plants. The plants are often hardier and have more 'character'. The plants possess no air miles, and don't have imported, unfamiliar pest, disease and weed problems attached to them."

Other top eco friendly tips from the designers include:

  • Design for wildlife.
  • Reduce paving.
  • Shred waste materials.
  • Go organic.
  • Mulch.

Visitor Information

To book tickets to RHS flower shows visit or call 0870 2842 2234.

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