Crucial role of insects inspires garden

The Royal Entomological Society Garden‘, designed by Tom Massey and supported by Project Giving Back, will be unveiled at the 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show before being relocated at IQL Stratford in East London as a long-term opportunity for learning and research.

The design behind the garden is to show how remarkable and valuable insects are and allows insect study to take placed in the unique outdoor laboratory, inspired by an insect eye, at the heart of the garden.

Research into pollination, food security and vector borne diseases is widely accepted as critical to our survival in a changing world and despite their crucial role in ecosystems across the planet, insect conservation is often undervalued when compared with mammal and bird conservation.

Speaking about the Chelsea garden and his wider collaboration with one of the world’s leading insect science organisations, Tom Massey says: “Insects are a key species in our ecosystems, but many are suffering mass global decline. We have a vital role to play in their recovery and survival, just as they do in ours – all life on Earth depends on them. This is a garden for insects and insect science that we hope will inspire people to reimagine their green spaces as biodiverse habitats and places to observe the wonders of the miniature world of insects.”

The garden highlights biodiversity in brownfield sites (often rich in wildlife) and includes a range of habitats including a dead tree sculpture, rammed earth floors and walls, piles of dead wood and rubble. The planting is chosen to encourage insects and provide a wide range of food sources for pollinators and other beneficial insects.

The garden’s outdoor laboratory, built into a hillside, takes visitors down into the landscape, offering an ‘insect eye view’ and a space in which to study. During show week, the lab will be used for real scientific research, monitoring and studying insects visiting the garden.

From summer 2023 onwards, the garden will form a permanent part of Lendlease’ sustainable mixed-use neighbourhood at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Simon Ward, CEO at RES, said: “The future of our planet hangs in the balance and better understanding of insects could provide the answers to many of our climate and biodiversity crisis questions.” Simon points out that they want to encourage visitors to consider their relationship with insects in their own gardens and, through its relocation after the show, the garden will play a key role in inspiring insect scientists of the future.

Tom Massey has become synonymous with environmentally conscious gardens that work in harmony with nature. His previously designed for RHS Chelsea in 2018 (for the Lemon Tree Trust) and the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in 2021.

Banner: Design ©Tom Massey