THE RSPCA Garden at the 2023 Chelsea Flower Show has wowed visitors, VIPs and Royals alike, but the charity, and its new President Chris Packham, is hoping it will scoop the biggest accolade of all – the People’s Choice Award.
The RSPCA Garden picked up a prestigious silver-gilt medal from the RHS judging panel yesterday (Tuesday) spreading an inspiring message about reversing wildlife decline, and even His Majesty the King described the garden as ‘beautiful’ during his visit to the show on Monday.
About 40% of incidents reported to the RSPCA concern wildlife – and last year, the charity received calls about more than 100,000 wild animals in need – with the RSPCA being called to help 6,614 wild animals across Wales in 2022.
The awards are not yet over, however – with voting for the BBC / RHS People’s Choice Award getting underway yesterday (23 May). The public can vote for their favourite garden at the Show – including for The RSPCA Garden in the Sanctuary category.
Voting closes for all gardens on Thursday at 7pm, with the winners announced on Friday evening.
Chris Packham, the charity’s new President, said: “There are some truly wonderful gardens here, but this is the very best garden here at Chelsea. It’s great for wildlife, and I’ve got some great ideas from this garden myself! You know it makes sense, it’s not just for gardeners, it’s for wildlife and wild animal welfare too.”
Those who are not able to visit the flower show in person can guide themselves around a 3D version of the stunning wildlife garden – similar to Google Street View. Virtual attendees can climb stairs of the two-storey bird hide and gaze into the beautiful water feature, and peep into a wall of bird boxes, all without leaving the comfort of their home.
Chris added: “At the click of a button visitors will be able to wander around The RSPCA Garden, find out more about the stunning plants, the amazing water feature inspired by the RSPCA’s unique rescuing animals, climb to to the top of the bird hide to see the view and get some great advice on how to create their own wildlife haven in their neighbourhoods.”
Smile Plastics based in Swansea created the rill (water feature) made out of recycled plastics, while Dan Rose, who is a volunteer with RSPCA Bryn y Maen Animal Centre, has been helping out at the garden.
As a Flintshire County Counsellor who sits on both the Environment and Climate change committees Dan is passionate about helping wildlife.
A keen gardener from an early age he won the Wales in Bloom competition aged 14 for the gardening he had done the gardening at. He also completed the RHS Advance Course aged 18 and has continued to garden in his allotment.
“I’ve never been to RHS Chelsea before, after doing my RHS Advanced units when I was in my late teens, it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go,” he said. “I love the new and unusual varieties released each year. If you think of the number of varieties of dogs all bred from wolves, it’s the same with garden plants, hundreds of cultivars all from within a species or hybrids of multiple species.
“I’d love to get to see them all! I’m also hoping I get a sneak peek behind the scenes of how it all works, I can’t imagine how a garden of this calibre gets created within days from nothing. Overall, I am eager to immerse myself in the world of RHS Chelsea, talking to like minded people about the RSPCAs support of wildlife and how we can use wildflowers and their cultivated forms in our gardens to all help.”
The RSPCA is determined to make their garden as accessible to everyone as possible. In addition to opening up the garden online, it will later be relocated to Cheshire to be based at one of the charity’s specialist wildlife centres, where it will provide sanctuary for staff, volunteers and wild animals alike.
RSPCA chief executive, Chris Sherwood, said: “Our garden has been made possible with funding from Project Giving Back and we want it to be as accessible as possible and our 3D immersive tour means everyone can visit for their own unique, access all areas tour, at the click of the button or a swipe of their finger.
“We’ve got a lot of great videos, tips, beautiful animals and maybe even a famous face or two hiding in the 3D immersive tour for people to find.”
Chris added: “We all know that wildlife is in serious decline and the way we are going to change that is by encouraging as many people as possible to take action.
“We want everyone who sees our garden at Chelsea to be inspired to become a Wildlife Friend, carrying out small acts of kindness like creating a hedgehog highway through their garden, putting out saucers of water for thirsty birds or picking up litter which can be a deadly hazard for our feathered friends.”
The RSPCA Garden is a stylish sanctuary for wildlife and people alike, celebrating how animals enrich our lives and highlighting how we can protect them.
The garden has already picked up a prestigious silver-gilt medal from the judging panel, as it spreads an inspiring message about reversing wildlife decline.
It has been designed by Martyn Wilson and is generously funded by Project Giving Back. The garden will be relocated at the end of the event to RSPCA Stapeley Grange in Cheshire, one of the charity’s wildlife rehabilitation and education centres, for visitors to enjoy the living legacy for years to come.
Martyn from Cheltenham, visited an RSPCA specialist wildlife centre and took inspiration from its dedicated rehabilitation work in the design of his garden which includes:
- A central water feature formed from recycled plastic waste is a reference to the RSPCA rescuing almost 4,000 animals trapped in or injured by litter last year (2022). Providing movement, sound and a drink for wildlife, it symbolises the rescue-rehabilitate-release cycle of care given to thousands of animals at the charity’s four specialist wildlife centres.
- A raised wildlife-watching ‘hide’ made from UK-grown Douglas fir and larch
- A green roof and wall-mounted bee hotels designed to be a refuge in nature for an RSPCA volunteer after a busy shift.
- Natural stone feature walls which house contemporary bird nesting boxes
- A modern corten steel interpretation of a ‘dead hedge’, with hidden hedgehog houses, creates habitats for birds, mammals and insects, whilst also recycling garden materials.
- A bronze sculpture of two otters, by Simon Gudgeon, is inspired by otters in the charity’s care
- Native trees and shrubs vital for birds and wildlife, planting is in a multi-layered naturalistic style in shades of green, whites and tones of blue with pollinator-friendly plants.
The RSPCA Garden was generously funded by Project Giving Back, a unique grant-making scheme that supports UK charities to reach new audiences through a fully-funded garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. To take the 3D tour visit the charity’s website – www.rspca.org.uk/chelseaflower