The Wildlife Trusts’ show garden, Renter’s Retreat designed by Zoe Claymore, has been awarded a gold medal and the Best Get Started Garden award at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival.
RHS judges praised the garden for its naturalistic and robust planting – the Renter’s Retreat aims to inspire people to make yards and gardens wilder and that 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 shade plants feature including herbs like coriander, water mint, and sorrel, native shade dwelling plants such as ferns, 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.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“We are absolutely delighted that our garden, Renter’s Retreat, has won two outstanding awards following a tremendous effort by everyone on the team. Nature is at the heart of this special creation and it’s already attracting bees and butterflies. This lovely design will inspire all who see it – even those who don’t own a garden – to help nature and climate by enhancing small outdoor spaces. To relax surrounded by such natural beauty and wildlife is great for your health and wellbeing too.
“Nature is in a critical state and more needs to be done to reverse this decline. We want to see 30 per cent of land well managed for nature by 2030 and each and every one of our gardens are a vital part of the UK’s wild landscapes. Astonishingly, private gardens make up a bigger area than all of Britain’s nature reserves combined – they can provide networks and corridors of wilder mini-habitats that support a diverse range of species, so they are absolutely crucial to helping restore nature and letting it thrive.”
Zoe Claymore, garden designer, says:
“I am thrilled that the Renter’s Retreat has won a gold medal and the Best Get Started Garden award! This garden has been a passion project of mine for two years but it wouldn’t be here today without the fantastic support of so many organisations and individuals. Particularly thanks to my fantastic landscapers Frogheath, my main plant nursery How Green, the build volunteers, the suppliers that have donated goods and all the wonderful people at both The Wildlife Trusts and The RHS for making this happen.
“It’s particularly special for me to win these awards since the project and design is so very personal to me. The inspiration behind this garden is based on a courtyard I used to rent and the idea started at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival two years ago, when I first saw the ‘get started’ category of gardens. I realised that renting, along with a lack of inspiration about what I could do with the space I had available, was one of the biggest barriers to getting into gardening for me. With so many households renting their homes, I felt a large group of people were being overlooked by show gardens and set myself the goal of creating a ‘get started’ garden that would inspire everyone – not just those that owned their properties – to get gardening!
“I hope this garden inspires people to transform every bit of their outside spaces wherever they live. I truly believe that even small interventions can have a big impact both for nature and people and ownership should not be a barrier to gardening for yourself and the planet.”
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
Once RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival is over, most of the garden will be relocated and reconfigured at the London Wildlife Trust’s Centre for Wildlife Gardening as an exploration area for school groups.
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