Jo Thompson and team have designed the RHS Wildlife Garden at this year’s Hampton Court Flower Festival. Working with wildlife gardener Kate Bradbury, the garden is imagined as an old, disused railway track, with a series of garden gates backing onto it. It is a pocket of ‘found’ land gradually being reclaimed, by gardening, from what had become overgrown and wild. The garden champions the idea of green ‘corridors’ in towns and cities across the UK and how they can play a crucial role in wildlife preservation now and in the future.
The garden includes a mixture of ornamental, non-native plants with native wildflowers or variations of these – as a mixture of the two provides maximum biodiversity. Many of the plants, including Achillea ‘Terracotta’ and Buddleia ‘davidii’ can tolerate poor nutrient soil and dry conditions. Habitat tripods, stone piles and log walls provide the all-important nooks and crannies that insects love; are easy to recreate anywhere and provide visual interest. There is a ‘dead hedge’ which functions as a fence, but also offers a valuable habitat for wildlife at the same time. The garden is bounded by a mixed native hedge on one side containing Hawthorn, as well as wild Privet, Field Maple and Hazel. Hawthorn’s spring blossom provides food for pollinators, while its spiky branches act as an ideal nesting spot for birds. Its bright red berries are an important food source in the winter months.
Photo © RHS/Tim Sandall