Chelsea FlowerShow, Introduce, Award, FriendlyGardens

The Royal Horticultural Society introduces a new green award at the 2024 Chelsea Flower Show, recognizing gardens with the lowest carbon impact. A carbon audit of show gardens resulted in a 28% reduction in emissions through design changes and sustainable materials.

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Nitish Verma
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Chelsea FlowerShow, Introduce, Award, FriendlyGardens

Chelsea FlowerShow, Introduce, Award, FriendlyGardens

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is introducing a new green award at the 2024 Chelsea Flower Show in west London, recognizing gardens with the lowest carbon impact. The award aims to promote sustainable gardening practices and celebrate designers who are embracing eco-friendly techniques and materials.

For the first time, the RHS has commissioned a carbon audit of the planned show gardens, resulting in a remarkable 28% reduction in emissions through design changes. The audit revealed that building materials are the most carbon-intensive aspect of creating a show garden, prompting many designers to rethink their projects and incorporate recycled objects and sustainable materials.

Why this matters: As the horticultural industry shifts towards sustainable practices, this initiative could have a significant impact on the environment, considering the vast area of private gardens in Great Britain. By promoting eco-friendly techniques, the RHS is contributing to a larger effort to reduce carbon emissions and preserve biodiversity.

Sarah Poll, Head of Shows Development at the RHS, emphasized the importance of the new award, stating,"We have introduced this new award in order to recognise and celebrate the fantastic ways designers and contractors are embracing the need to reduce their impact on the environment. "All designers who have undergone the carbon audit are eligible for consideration for the green award, which will be presented alongside traditional medals such as gold, silver-gilt, silver, and bronze.

Several designers have already incorporated sustainable practices into their gardens for the 2024 show. The Flood Resilient Garden by Naomi Slade and Ed Barsley uses reclaimed wood, rocks, and pebbles to reduce waste and carbon impact. The Freedom from Torture Garden by John Warland and Emma O'Connell features structures built from willow to minimize the environmental footprint. Miria Harris's Stroke Association's Garden for Recovery utilizes hempcrete blocks and lime instead of cement to reduce emissions, while Giulio Giorgi's World Child Cancer Nurturing Garden creates raised beds with 3D-printed clay blocks, eliminating the need for concrete and chemical glues.

The introduction of the green award at the Chelsea Flower Show reflects a growing trend in sustainable gardening practices. With an estimated 521,872 hectares of private gardens in Great Britain, adopting eco-friendly techniques could provide a significant boost to the nation's biodiversity. As clients increasingly commission landscape designers to create wildlife-rich and sustainable gardens, the RHS's initiative serves as a catalyst for change in the horticultural industry.

The 2024 Chelsea Flower Show will take place from 21 to 25 May in the Royal Hospital Gardens, west London. With the introduction of the green award and a strong focus on sustainability, the event promises to showcase innovative designs that prioritize the environment while still captivating visitors with their beauty and creativity.