Department of Landscape to create climate change garden at first RHS Chatsworth show

The RHS Garden for a Changing Climate

The Department of Landscape, in collaboration with the RHS is to create a garden that will show how gardens could change in the future, at the first RHS Chatsworth Flower Show; in a project that will bring together staff, current students and department alumni.

The ‘RHS Garden for a Changing Climate’ is designed by Andy Clayden, Dr Ross Cameron and RHS Scientist Eleanor Webster and will show a small suburban garden now and in the future (the year 2100). The design is based on information within the forth-coming RHS report on ‘Gardening in a Changing Climate’, of which the academics helped author.

The 300m² design will highlight the impacts of climate change on garden style and function as well as feature plants that will be able to cope with the challenges of our future climate.

Students will be involved in the construction stage at the inaugural RHS show in Derbyshire, and be on hand during the show to demonstrate the garden to visitors.

Andy Clayden said: “Both the construction and communication of the garden will present important opportunities for our students. Firstly, they will gain hands-on experience in working with landscape materials and implementing the planting design alongside an experienced team of landscape contractors from NT Killingley Ltd. Secondly, they will develop a more in-depth understanding of the science that underpins this garden, how this has shaped the design and then to share this knowledge with the public.”

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show will run from 7 – 11 June and is the first to be held in the Derbyshire estate.

More than 46 000 tickets have already been sold for the show, for which the overarching theme is ‘Design Revolutionaries’; celebrating creative people who, through their foresight and innovation, have changed the way we think about gardens and garden design.

Nick Mattingley, RHS Director of Shows, says: “We have been focusing on creating an exciting, life-enhancing, vibrant show that is different from any other.”

RHS Garden for a Changing Climate

The RHS Garden for a Changing Climate is the main RHS exhibit and will sit alongside eight show gardens and, for the first time at an RHS show, eight FreeForm installations.

The design is split by a sweeping path that separates, on one side, how gardens look now, with how they might look in the future, as plants have to cope with a climate that is increasingly warmer and drier in summer, but also more turbulent with intense, sometimes unpredictable heavy showers and strong winds.

Visitors will be invited to walk between these two spaces, where students from the Department of Landscape will be on hand to explain the science that underpins the selection of plants.

Dr Ross Cameron, said: “Climate change will increase the range of plants we can grow in our gardens, but it may make it more difficult for us to grow them well, due to greater oscillations in weather patterns. Keen gardeners have always enjoyed a challenge, and like to match their skills against the elements, but in future we may have to rely on more robust plant species that have proven their resilience against the extremes of the weather. For example, tolerating drought conditions one year and water-logging the next.”

The RHS Garden for a Changing Climate incorporates flexible spaces that encourage residents to spend more time in their garden and to take advantage of milder winters. Innovations include:

  • A canopy that can be quickly erected to provide shelter in the event of an unanticipated downpour. This captures rainwater and directs it to storage tanks/ponds that are used in times of drought.
  • The canopy may itself be constructed from solar fabrics that convert energy from the sun, which in turn is used to pump water through the garden or recharge an electrical vehicle.
  • Garden boundaries have been reconfigured to create stronger, more robust edges that are resilient to wind and create opportunities for social gathering, as well as supporting climbing plants.
  • Greater use of permeable surfaces, bioremediation, as well as water capture and storage facilities, to accommodate changes to building regulations that demand gardens are now used to control the release and treatment of rainfall to help prevent urban flooding.
  • Recycled aggregates and a porous pavement replace the traditional impermeable patio and tarmacked parking bay, so as to direct water to a shared, community wetland.
  • Glass structures are introduced to afford temporary shelter, to protect some of the newer, more sensitive plants in the event of a sudden change in the weather.

Tickets to RHS Chatsworth Flower Show can be bought at