Global Impact Gardens RHS Hampton Court

The RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2021 will run from 6th to 11th July and promises to be one of the highlights of summer. After the disruption last year and cancellations of flower shows, it is heartening to know that RHS Hampton will be taking place and will certainly be welcomed by many.

The Global Impact category at this year’s show is aimed at highlighting environmental issues and possible solutions and promises a diverse range of designs.

‘Message in a Bottle’ (pictured banner above) designed by Tracy Foster (pictured left) for sponsor The Canal and River Trust, is a conceptual garden representing a discarded bottle floating towards the shore. Inside the bottle there is a bright and appealing garden. The aim of the garden is to inspire people to reduce plastic pollution, both within our own gardens and in our urban green spaces in towns and cities and especially around our canals and rivers.

The bottle is created from iron and will contain a variety of plants, all selected for their vibrant colour to represent the positive message that we can all do something to help. Flax plants surround the bottle as a representation of the huge number of plant species that are used to make natural alternatives to plastic.

Flax is also used to produce linen and a natural waterproof resin – a plant offering an alternative to plastics. Inside the bottle, plants include bright reds, pinks, yellows and oranges to contrast with the watery planting and stand out. So look out for echinacea, nasturtium, penstemon and kniphofia.

The ‘Fashion Footprint Garden’ (pictured above) designed by Baz Grainger, highlights the impact the fashion and textile industry has on the environment. The garden promotes being more sustainable with clothing and the actions we take in discarding what we no longer use. The focus is on three areas of concern – landfill, water pollution and air pollution. Recycling can prevent clothes being sent to landfill; growing more plants and trees can help filter more pollutants from the atmosphere as well as using natural dyes.

Inspiration is taken from the textile dyeing pits seen in India and Asia. The sunken area contains a water feature with two Corten steel barrels depicting dye vats used in the indigo dyeing process. The garden recycles textile waste by filling gabions with old clothes and uses buttons for gravel. Planting will include Betula jacquemontii and Pinus sylvestris as they are excellent pollution filters.

Extinction’ (pictured above) designed by Felicity O’Rourke addresses the mass extinction threat to our planet, caused by exploitation and destruction of its natural resources and ancient ecosystems. It aims to jolt people into both understanding the scale of the crisis and an appreciation of the scale of behavioural change that is needed to make an affect.

Felicity used to be a commercial airline pilot and so she was drawn to the idea of using the drama of a crashed aircraft to bring a sense of shock and awe to emphasize the concept behind the garden’s design. In this garden, a commercial passenger jet has recently crashed into a large agricultural crop field – visitors will be able to walk around the shocking scene and come up to the front door where they are met with Police crime scene tape. From there they will look inside and see through to a beautiful verdant forest beyond.

The view is a portal to the past, present and future. It shows a forest of ancient species, which existed long before humankind set foot on this planet, which survive to this day.

Picture credits: Message in a Bottle ©Tracy Foster; Fashion Footprint Garden ©Baz Grainger; Extinction ©Felicity O’Rourke.