Outrage after Just Stop Oil protest at RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden

Security was beefed up at Chelsea after Just Stop Oil protesters covered a garden with orange coloured powder.

RBC Brewin Dolphin clean up

RBC Brewin Dolphin's show garden, designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes, was hit on the morning of 25 May by protesters, who caused an alert to go round the showground that intruders were on site.

Security staff and police moved to the garden to remove protesters and gardeners and contractors cleaned up, wiping plants and hosing down hard landscaping, as witnessed by HortWeek reporters.

Gareth Wilson, owner of G K Wilson Landscapes who built the garden, told HortWeek: “It’s disgusting behaviour. I’m speechless. 

“If it was an oil refinery, or a company that was using oil and polluting the atmosphere, or pouring things in the river, if it was protesting companies like that, I can sympathise. But the Chelsea Flower Show is moving heaven and earth to become sustainable. 

There’s no petrol or diesel allowed on site, they want you to cut down on the amount of concrete used, use as much recycled products as possible – or eco products. 

“The protestors have not done their homework.”

From 2023 all RHS Chelsea gardens are required to have a plan for life after the show. But Wilson adds that now the orange dye has been thrown on the plants, they could be unusable, “We put our heart and soul into that. They poured that dye all over the plants, how are we now going to reuse those? How are we going to reuse that paving?”  

He continued that the sponsor, RBC Brewin Dolphin, have put “hard earned” money into the garden, as have those who supplied the products, because they “want their products to be seen on the world’s biggest stage, at Chelsea Flower Show, at their finest.” 

He explained that it could have ripple effects on those involved in the garden. He says, “RBC Brewin Dolphin have been kind enough to work with Paul for years now, and I’ve worked with them for years. They want the best for their clients… it has a massive knock on effect. It’s basically vandalism and I hope that for any loss of revenue the RBC Brewin Dolphin might suffer comes out of their pockets.”

He added that "fuming is an understatement" and "stupidity knows no boundaries, especially as the RHS is pushing sustainability at the very top of its agenda. Gardens that aren’t sustainable simply don’t get accepted by the RHS. Do these fools not see the plants and trees in the gardens?"

Exhbitors expressed shock, saying that the protest was "disgusting" and "damaged a lot of hard work".

The silver gilt-winning garden was back to its old self by 11am.

There protestors were arrested at 9am on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

They said on Twitter: "What good is a garden if you can’t grow food? Millions are starving in the Global South whilst our government ignores the climate crisis, choosing to licence 100 new oil and gas projects." They said on the garden: "You can't grow plants and have biodiversity when it's too hot for things to thrive. This is beautiful but we won't have this for long unless we do something." Several visitors applauded. The protestors stayed in the garden until they were arrested.

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