The Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show in London - UK, has been called the greatest flower show in the world. Attracting gardening enthusiasts from around the world, the show is also one of the highlights on the British social calendar. In 2011, RBC took part, sponsoring one of the 20 "show gardens."
Created by award-winning landscape designer Nigel Dunnett, the "RBC New Wild Garden" was RHS Chelsea's first full-scale "rain garden," designed to capture and use every single drop of rain that falls on it. Supported by the RBC Blue Water Project, together with RBC Wealth Management and RBC Capital Markets, the garden aimed to promote water stewardship and environmental sustainability.
"The materials in the garden were all made of reused, recycled and found objects as the garden combines ecological awareness with artistic materials and naturalistic planting," said Nigel. A key feature of the garden was a studio, a building made from a shipping container, previously used to transport goods from port to port all over the world.
The RBC New Wild Garden bought together two major themes in British gardening in the last 100 years: the Arts and Crafts ideal - celebrating the artistic and painterly use of plants, combined with high quality and traditional craftsmanship, local materials and strong sense of place - and the wild garden - celebrating the beauty of nature, and the naturalistic use of garden plants.
"Much of the inspiration behind the garden came from the ideas and philosophy of William Robinson, the pioneering Victorian horticulturist and gardener," continued Nigel. "Robinson wrote The Wild Garden, introduced the Herbaceous Border to British Gardens and popularised the use of perennials. The RBC New Wild Garden updated all these ideas and puts them into a contemporary urban setting."
The garden is part of the RBC Blue Water Project, our innovative, multi-year, global commitment to help protect the world's most valuable natural resource - fresh water. RBC has committed C$50 million in charitable grants to a network of organisations that foster a culture of water stewardship.
Commenting on the RBC New Wild Garden, Lynn Patterson, Director of Corporate Responsibility at RBC, said: "Nigel Dunnett's team at the Landscape Agency has conceived a design that is hugely innovative and immensely relevant to 21st-century city living. The sustainability message, which is at the heart of the RBC New Wild Garden's design, aligns perfectly with our ongoing commitment to water preservation through our RBC Blue Water Project. This is an exciting initiative and we look forward to working together with the Landscape Agency to help both raise awareness of the importance of water management and promote the use of recycled materials."
On the first day of the show, the garden, which received a prestigious silver gilt medal from RHS judges, was honoured with a visit from the Queen. The RBC New Wild Garden was just one of six gardens chosen to form part of the Queen's annual visit to Chelsea.
After Chelsea, the RBC New Wild Garden moved to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire in the South West of England, where it was rebuilt as a permanent attraction for WWT Slimbridge's 250,000 annual visitors. The garden now provides inspiration to visitors in methods of harvesting and conserving water and ways of encouraging wildlife and biodiversity in their own gardens. WWT experts are on hand to provide tips and advice on planting and water systems, suggesting practical conservation techniques and ideas that can be taken home and carried out in visitors' own back yards.
This is the second rain garden that RBC has donated to the WWT following the opening of the RBC Rain Garden at the London Wetland Centre in 2010. Both gardens were conceived by the same design team under Nigel Dunnett with the Landscape Agency and were supported with grants from the RBC Blue Water Project.
Martin Spray, Chief Executive of WWT, said: "Rain gardens give us a way to encourage wildlife whilst providing achievable solutions to some of the big environmental problems that affect us all. We hope that the RBC garden at Slimbridge will inspire our visitors to create their own habitats when they return home. The RBC Rain Garden in our London Wetland Centre is already an immensely popular attraction, and I look forward to replicating that success in Slimbridge."