The Wildlife Trusts’ show garden at this summer’s RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival in early July aims to inspire people to make yards and gardens wilder – even if they don’t own them.
The Renter’s Retreat is designed by Zoe Claymore to highlight how everybody can play an important role in helping nature to recover, especially in urban areas.
Around one in three households in England are rented and over seven million of these properties have access to outdoor space. Claymore’s garden aims to show visitors how they can help nature and climate by utilising small outdoor areas – particularly in towns and cities with 85% of England’s population living in urban areas.
The Renter’s Retreat explores how a small, shady, courtyard can be transformed into a beautiful wildlife haven, while providing a relaxing space for people to enjoy. A variety of shade to part share plants will feature including native ferns, herbs like coriander, water mint and sorrel, and fruits including wild strawberries and crab apples. Wildlife can find food throughout the seasons with a mix of specially selected flowering and fruiting plants.
The Renter’s Retreat focuses on the textures and shades of green, typical of British woodlands in the summer. The array of features will help support wildlife including insects and birds in outside spaces across the country, regardless of the size, location – or whether the occupiers own the property. They include:
- a hügelkultur mound (permaculture growing technique)
- a raised pond
- smaller trees in pots including crab apple which provides pollen in the spring, shade in the summer, berries in autumn/winter and shelter for wildlife in winter
- log planters and modular raised beds that can be dismantled and moved around
- methods for home composting and rainwater capture
The design enables everything in the garden to be transported through a front door. The garden aims to empower and inspire tenants, landlords and homeowners to improve outside spaces for wildlife, and remind us how we all have a part to play in recovering nature. It also celebrates the health and wellbeing benefits of making outside spaces greener – even in the most unlikely of urban settings.
Hügelkultur (from German, literally ‘mound culture’) is a horticultural technique that involves building a hill or mound to grow plants on but can also be incorporated into raised beds and containers. The mound has logs and layers of plant matter and compost which retain moisture and decay over time to create a planting bed. The layered approach in hügelkultur improves the diversity and quality of soil, while retaining moisture and nutrients in the earth. This reduces the need to water and significantly improves fertility, helping plants to grow while benefitting insects and other wildlife.
Nikki Williams, director of campaigning and communities for The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“There are around 24 million gardens across the UK, and they can play a central role in nature’s recovery, especially in urban areas. As part of the government-backed ambition to protect 30% of land for nature, we need to create connected networks of habitats that provide wildlife with places to live – including in towns and cities.
“The Renter’s Retreat can empower individuals and communities to help nature where they live, in courtyards, ‘yardens’ and in tiny urban gardens. If every garden had wildflowers, a pond and a small tree, it would have such a positive impact for nature. We need to help nature recover everywhere and gardens are an excellent place to start.”
Zoe Claymore, garden designer, says:
“This garden is all about showing how every bit of outside space can become an oasis for bugs, birds and mini-beasts – irrespective of where you live. I want to inspire people to make little changes that have a big impact both for nature and people. We know that spending time in green spaces is so important for our health and happiness, and creating greener yards and gardens can work wonders for our wellbeing.”
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world:
- 53% of native plants have declined due to intense agriculture and climate change.
- 41% of UK species have declined since 1970.
- 15% of species in the UK are threatened with extinction.
RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival runs from Tuesday 4th to Sunday 9thJuly 2023.
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