RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2015 Made for Gardens: Nurture in Nature

In collaboration with Made for Gardens and The Centre for Alternative Energy Shani Lawrence Garden Designs created a show garden at the RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2015 which was awarded a silver gilt medal.

The Brief

The original brief was given to us by the RHS and forms part of their Simple Spaces Amazing Places campaign. The brief was as follows:

“Many of us who live in an urban or sub-urban environment have small or very little green space to call our own. Gardens may
have been paved over to allow for additional parking or ease of maintenance and as a result vital green space around us is
becoming less and less. Green space is vital for wildlife, biodiversity and for our own health and wellbeing. At RHS Flower Cardiff
2015 we aim to launch the campaign to get people to do their bit for urban greening and turn their grey to green.
Simple Spaces: Amazing Places aims to show the visitor how an average size garden can be utilised and transformed into an
inspiring, practical and easily maintainable living space. The gardens should be packed with ideas that visitors can take away with
them, even if they only take sections of the designs to fit in with the space they have at home.

A wildlife haven – this home belongs to a young family who have two children aged 3 and 6. They love the outdoors and visiting
the local parks but would like to be able to utilize the space they have at home to reflect their outdoor interests. Gardening for
wildlife is very important in this garden as the children would like to encourage birds, insects and hedgehogs. It would be nice if
there is room for the children to have their own small raised bed and perhaps a den or hideaway. “

Bringing The Show Garden to Life

In collaboration with Made for Gardens we decided that if we were to design and build a wildlife garden that it should be kind to nature not just in itself but to the wider world as a whole. To this end we chose to use all sustainable materials. Our next step was to contact The Centre for Alternative Energy.

CAT agreed to pull a number of trees from their woodland by horse which we could then use to make all the timber structures in the garden. Furthermore the trees removed are to be replanted with broad leaf species. As well as the new trees sequestering carbon the carbon of the felled trees will be locked in. Choosing the correct species of tree for outside use is very important, larch and douglas fir was mainly used due to its suitability to an outside environment and will survive well with no treatment slowly silvering in colour over time.

Once we had the trees Made for Gardens planked them and took the timber back to their workshop in where they were planed and machined. This wood was then used to make all the structures in the garden. The structures created included a wildlife fence that allows plants to be held vertically, greatly increasing the amount of green space in the garden. Into the fence we also built bug hotels, important habitats for bees and invertebrates.

We also built a children’s den which we are donating to The Centre for Alternative Energy, a secret door nestled in the hedge that when opens reveals a blackboard for children to draw on and record their wildlife observations. In addition we created two benches for the garden, a small bench and a serpentine bench that coils around the garden. Allowing the children to run round it and disappear across the stepping stones over the bog garden area. We also made two raised beds for children to grow their own plants and also incorporates a sand pit and an area for mud play.

The Planting

We carefully selected plants due to their dual suitability to both children and wildlife. We used a number of plants that are poisonous such as bluebells and daffodils taking the view that educating children about plants is also important.

Plant List

These are the plants that we used at the show. Please contact Shani Lawrence if you would like more information on wildlife friendly planting.

Ajuga x r. ‘Black Scallop’ (Bugle) Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle)Allium ursinum (Wild garlic) Amelanchier lamarckii. (June berry) Anemone blanda ‘White Splendour’Arenaria balearica (Sandwort) Asplenium scolopendrium (Hart’s tongue)Asplenium angustifolium

Aubrieta ‘Blue cascade’

Brunnera m. ‘ Dawson’s White’

Carex elata ‘Aurea’ (Bowles golden sedge)

Cardamine pratensis (Ladys smock)

Cardamine heterphylla ‘Big White’

Carex ‘Frosted Curls’

Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’

Clematis alpina

Clematis cartmanii ‘Joe’

Cryrtomium fortunei var cliviola

Dryopteris erythrosa

Dryopteris affinis ‘Pinderi

Elaeagnus x ebbinegi

Erica e. ‘W T Rackliff’ (Heather)

Exochorda racemosa ‘Niagara’ (pearl bush)

Fargaria vesca (wild strawberry)

Foeniculum vulgare ‘Bronze giant ‘(Fennel)

Fritillaria meleagris (Snakeshead fritillary) Geranium phaeum (woodland cranesbill) Hebe ‘Mrs Winder’ (Veronica)Hosta undulata ‘Albomarginata’ (Plaintain lily)*Hedera helix (Ivy) *Hyacinthoides non scripta (Blue bell)Laurus nobilis (Sweet Bay)Lavandula angustifiolia (Lavender)

*Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ (Summer snowflakes)

Lotus corniculatus (Birds foot trefoil)

Myosotis (forget me not)

*Narcissus p. obvallaris (Tenby daffodil)

Pieris j. ‘Variegata’

Primula denticulata White (drumstick primulas)

Primula veris (Cowslip)

Primula vulgaris (Primrose)

Pulmonaria Blue Ensign (Lungwort)

Rosmarinus o. prostrata’ (Rosemary)

Saxifrage ‘Mossy White’

Skimma japonica ‘Finchy’

Thymus p. ‘Purple carpet‘ (Thyme)

Thymus ‘Silver Posie’ (Variegated thyme)

Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’

Viburnum tinus ‘Eve Price’ (Laurustinus)

Viola odorata (Violet)

* The daffodils; bluebells, ivy and the Summer snowflakes are harmful if eaten and can cause irritation to the skin.

We would like to give special thanks to the following people:

The sedum for the den roof was donated by Green Roof Tops and in addition the beautiful water sculpture was donated by Creative Spiral.

Special thanks to Robert Goodsell from the Centre for Alternative energy for all the advice and hard work and in addition to Tim Wickenham for his woodworking expertise. And also to Tim Brew from Energy in Education for his invaluable assistance and knowledge.

We hope that you enjoy the photographs of the garden. We really enjoyed creating it and felt that we met all our aims in its design and build.