The "walk through" show feature, designed by Nigel Dunnett and the Landscape Agency, will showcase RHS scientific research to demonstrate the positive environmental benefits of increased planting in grey spaces.
The ‘Greening Grey Britain’ garden feature is inspired by the 60m² garden of the Kensington Street’s St Mungo’s Hostel, which is currently covered with an uninviting layer of gravel. The transformed space will illustrate how horticulture could dramatically improve the outdoor environment for the 10 residents living at the temporary home, some of whom have complex needs through former homelessness, addictions or mental health issues.
After the show, elements of the garden, constructed by Landform UK, will be transported to Bristol to be installed in the Kensington Road community space.
The garden will highlight the benefits of growing more plants in hard landscaped environments, from their role in combating climate change to air pollution abatement. Through interactive exhibits the garden will also encourage visitors to do the same in their own front gardens, community spaces and streetscapes.
Pre-recorded ideas and suggestions by BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellists will be played to visitors as they walk through the gardens.
RHS Science and Communities teams are also advising on design to demonstrate some of the society’s industry-leading expertise, from understanding how strategic planting in urban areas can reduce cooling costs by up to 30 per cent, to the value of gardens in flood prevention by infiltrating rainwater into the soil and reducing direct runoff.
Nigel Dunnett, professor of planting design and vegetation technology at the University of Sheffield and the garden’s creator said: "We are delighted to be designing the 'Greening Grey Britain' garden at Hampton Court for the RHS and BBC. Being creative with ecological ideas, mixing science and art, and using gardens and plants to deliver environmental benefits has always been at the heart of what I do.
Now, more than ever, it is essential that we champion the role of horticulture, gardens and plants as being in the vanguard of how we address the multiple challenges of climate change in our built environments. We need to fill our cities with plants, and to be radical and innovative in how we do it. We need to start a revolution! With our garden we aim to show how this can be done in even the smallest of places, in community spaces, in private gardens, and in the wider public realm. We want to bring all these benefits to life for show visitors, and to demonstrate how we can do this in ways that are beautiful, exciting, and full of meaning."