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Climate change set to take centre stage at Chelsea Flower Show

Gardens focusing on green space in cities and deforestation feature in the 2020 show, while some growers are switching to more sustainable methods.

The Chelsea Flower Show 2019: next year’s show will see climate take centre stage (Aaron Chown/PA)
The Chelsea Flower Show 2019: next year’s show will see climate take centre stage (Aaron Chown/PA)

By Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent

Gardens that focus on combating climate change will take centre stage at next year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has said.

As it unveils the 2020 line-up for the world-famous show, the RHS said designers and growers were using the event as a platform to encourage a more environmentally sustainable future.

Award winning design duo Hugo Bugg and Charlotte Harris have designed a communal residential garden for show sponsor M&G, with a focus on forging “vital green space” in places that need them most.

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A visualisation of the MandG garden (Christian Tate/PA)

Ms Harris said while more people were living in cities, and those cities are getting hotter with climate change, there was a “primal need for green space on a physical level, mental level, environmental level”.

The garden design has recycled and repurposed materials and sustainable elements such as permeable paving woven through it.

“The planting will be led by looking at resilient plants that are suitable for the climate challenges of urban spaces, mitigating the heat island effect, creating habitat, fixing nitrogen.

She said the garden would look at how to create “moments of joy and respite”, adding “it will be a very beautiful but urban space”.

Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden’ by Peter Chmiel and Chin-Jung Chen of Grant Associates also looks at a sustainable future city garden, with a woodland dell to clean the air, a pool to clean water and bamboo structures which represent homes for humans and wildlife.

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The Facebook garden by Joe Perkins focuses on trees and timber (I-Echo Visualisation/PA)

In the face of global deforestation, the Facebook Garden: Growing the Future, by Chelsea gold medal winner Joe Perkins, focuses on increasing UK tree cover and the need for better woodland management as the climate changes.

Mr Perkins said living trees locked up carbon and prevented flooding, and were also a productive resource for timber, which also stores carbon.

“It’s about trying to open up the discussion about what a wonderful material it is, how resilient trees are for us and our cities, and also the importance of the management of that timber,” he said.

Every structure in the garden will be made from timber, including surfacing and walls, and will feature different types of wood, including UK-sourced and recycled timber.

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The Yeo Valley Garden will create a wildlife-friendly space (Tom Massey/PA)

Elsewhere at the show the Yeo Valley Organic Garden is using plants grown organically where possible to create a wildlife-friendly exhibit, and carbon used to make it will be offset at Yeo Valley’s farm in Somerset.

Designers are using wood for its carbon-storage potential and looking for ways to avoid concrete and cement, as well as focusing on UK sourced materials and plants, the RHS said.

A number of growers and nurseries exhibiting at the show this year have made environmental changes including going peat free and growing in biodegradable pots.

Rose Gore Browne, RHS Chelsea show manager said: “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 and growers adopting suitable practices.”

She told the PA news agency: “With Chelsea, it’s a huge industry gathering and then we also have 160,000 interested gardeners coming through the door.

“So it’s an unrivalled platform in horticulture to demonstrate to visitors how they can be gardening more sustainably, and there’s no better way to do that than a show garden.”

She said sustainability was an important issue for the show itself, and the RHS is working with A Greener Festival, which helps events become more environmentally sustainable.

The RHS is hoping to get to the point where all power from onsite generators comes from biodiesel, while suppliers and contractors are pitching ways of serving takeaway food in reusable containers, she said.

PA

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