The Urban Rain Garden is designed to cope with climate change, and in particular the heavy downpours that we are experiencing in England, which can cause flash flooding and problems with drainage. The garden incorporates rainwater management techniques, so that all rainwater and run-off from the house is redirected, stored and used within the garden.
Designer Rhiannon Williams said:
"My inspiration came from my Masters studies at the University of Sheffield, where I was very lucky to be taught by Nigel Dunnett who is a world authority on rain gardens.
"I’ve always been keen to design spaces that are not only beautiful but functional as well, and the Urban Rain Garden embodies this, but also more importantly it demonstrates an easy way to adopt a more sustainable approach when it comes to rain water management."
An unusual feature of the design is that there is both a front and back garden with a walkway in-between. This allows show visitors a 360-degree view of the garden, giving it an interactive feel.
The front garden includes a space for a compact car to park over a metal grate, below which is a storm water retention pond. The back garden features elements familiar to many residential gardens, including a patio, lawn, and an entertaining area.
Squire's deputy chairman Sarah Squire said: "I like the fact that the garden is both an affordable and sustainable design. Planting is zoned to deal with varying water levels within the garden. Very wet areas contain plants like Irises down to dry zones at the end of the garden, containing plants like Salvia, Achillea, and ornamental grasses. Structural shrubs and trees provide a sense of enclosure, and there’s colourful planting for summer impact when the space will be used for entertaining.
Dunnett said: "I was thrilled to learn that Rhiannon was taking on her first major show garden at RHS Hampton Court this year. I think that her design is inspired and will truly capture the public’s imagination. There are many elements that can be adopted for our own spaces and some of the solutions that she offers to cope with our changing climates are truly innovative."
The Urban Rain Garden is in the new RHS category "Gardens for a Changing World", which aims to reflect more sustainable directions of gardening worldwide.