Conservation charity makes Chelsea debut

International wildlife conservation charity, Fauna & Flora, will make its RHS Chelsea Flower Show debut in 2023 with a show garden designed by Chelsea Gold Medal-winner, Jilayne Rickards.

The Fauna & Flora Garden will be landscaped by award-winning landscaper, Tecwyn Evans, of Living Landscapes, and is sponsored by Project Giving Back, the charity established to enable charities and not-for-profit organisations to raise awareness of their work by staging a garden at the show that will live on in a permanent location as a legacy.

The show garden provides Fauna & Flora with an invaluable opportunity to raise awareness of its global conservation work, including projects disrupted by the global pandemic, at a time when recognising the links between nature protection, climate action and human well-being is more important than ever.

The design will offer visitors a window into the spectacular Afromontane landscape of Central Africa, celebrating the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, originally established by the charity in 1978 at the Mountain Gorilla Project, with support from Sir David Attenborough, the charity’s Vice-President.

The garden maps the journey of an ecotourist on a gorilla trek, tracing a rough track through a succession of lush and changing landscapes on either side of the Protected Forest Area boundary wall. Unusual plants will feature, including the African tulip tree and a range of medicinal plants including Brillantaisia, Moringa, Leucas and Tithonia.

Along the way there is a medicinal garden shaded by Eucalyptus and banana trees; a typical gift kiosk selling local crafts and a true-to-life gorilla nest set among bamboo. An entrancing waterfall and viewing rock, surrounded by unusual plants found only at high altitude will also make a focal point.

The garden has been designed to be as sustainable as possible, with 95% of building materials sourced in the UK and zero waste sent to landfill.

Jilayne comments: “I am delighted to be working with Fauna & Flora on its debut Chelsea Flower Show garden; we’re bringing a slice of the Afromontane volcanic mountain forest to central London and, while the garden is centred around the megafauna that is the mountain gorillas, it will also highlight the outstanding plants in the landscape that provide home to a diverse range of species. Over the coming months, we will be sourcing a plethora of exotic and unusual plants with help from the Eden Project, which will be supplying the majority of the plants.

Jilayne points out that she has worked with Tecwyn and suppliers to ensure the garden will be a true model of sustainability: “We therefore hope to provide gardeners and visitors to Chelsea with plentiful ideas for how they can make their own gardens more sustainable, while encouraging them to question their resources and explore how they can better contribute to a circular economy,” she said.

Mark Rose, CEO of Fauna & Flora, comments: “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become, in recent years, not just the flagship event for the gardening world, but a wonderful platform for charities and organisations to raise awareness of wider issues affecting the planet and the people on it. Project Giving Back has funded some fantastic causes in the last year – including Rewilding Britain, Mind and RNLI – and we are delighted to have been selected as one of its 2023 charities. 2023 will mark 120 years since Fauna & Flora was first founded to protect species and wildlife across the world, so it will truly be a remarkable year for us.

Focusing on the success of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in Central Africa, which is the work of multiple conservation partners, our show garden aims to demonstrate that collaborative, community-focused and locally led conservation – that brings together governments, corporates and local enterprise – offers the most sustainable solution to the twin biodiversity and climate crises. We believe that people and collaboration need to be at the heart of conservation efforts and we’re looking forward to delivering this message at Chelsea next year.

Hattie Ghaui, CEO of Project Giving Back, comments: “For almost 120 years Fauna & Flora has been paving the way for international conservation – its work has been invaluable for the future of so many plant and animal species – and we are thrilled to be sponsoring the charity’s 2023 show garden.”

Jilayne is a dynamic and talented designer and has been creating gardens for over 20 years. Her award winning gardens have featured in many magazines. Most recently, her Urban Retreat Garden was recognised by the BALI National Landscape Awards in 2020 with an unprecedented haul of four awards. Her gardens are designed with biodiversity and sustainability in mind and constructed using methods that reflect her determination to reduce the carbon footprint of her builds.

In 2019 Jilayne was awarded an RHS Gold Medal and the BBC/RHS People’s Choice Award for her show garden debut with the CAMFED Garden, a memorable garden that delighted show visitors.

Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (23rd to 27th May 2023), the garden will be relocated to the Tropical Biome of the Eden Project in Cornwall, where it will help to educate and entertain around one million visitors for years to come.

Photo credit: Graphic of garden ©Jilayne Rickards