John Constable's The Hay Wain inspires garden design for RSPB

An area that inspired John Constable to paint The Hay Wain could trigger a surge in wildlife gardening.

Landscape architect Alex Johnson and garden designer Catherine Heatherington have been commissioned to design a wildlife garden for the RSPB at Flatford in Suffolk.

The garden is to be a living exemplar of the RSPB's Homes for Wildlife campaign, and it is hoped it will inspire some of the area's 225,000 annual visitors to create a similar scheme at home.

Johnson — who met Heatherington while both were council members at the Society of Garden Designers — said the design for the garden draws on some of the elements of The Hay Wain, such as its black poplars.

"As well as being a beautiful tree, it is also becoming more rare," she said. "We were also inspired by the local distinctiveness and craftsmanship in that part of Suffolk."

Materials echo those of the local churchyard at East Bergholt, using flint, brick-dust paths and black-stained wood.

Johnson explained she was keen to dispel the myth that a wildlife garden must be unkempt. She said: "There are lots of ways of making a garden more wildlife-friendly; it doesn't just have to be messy.

"Birds and bees don't care if the garden is informal or not. It is quite a big site so we were able to explore a number of different ideas, some of which would translate into a smaller garden."

Formal, intimate areas combine with more natural planting across the site. The new garden is due to open next summer.


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