Upcoming: RHS Hampton Court 2017 – The Urban Rain Garden

Things are stepping up on Chelsea, but it mustn’t be forgotten that preparation is also underway for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show as well.  The gardens have already been announced for Hampton Court and we are busy building there this year again. We are building a show garden: “It’s All About Community” for Blind Veterans UK, designed by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Dan Bowyer; two gardens in the new category “Gardens for a Changing World”, the Perennial Sanctuary Garden, designed by Tom Massey, and the Urban Rain Garden, designed by our newest design team member Rhiannon Williams, jointly sponsored by Landform and Squires Garden Centres.

The new RHS “Gardens for a Changing World” category is a very interesting one. The gardens will tackle a range of hot topics from the redevelopment of brownfield sites, flooding and climate change. The RHS are publishing a report in April exploring the ways that we can adapt gardens and spaces to deal with these ever prevalent issues.

Rhiannon joined Landform in 2014 as part of her year out placement for her University degree at Sheffield, but joined the team permanently in June 2016 on completion of her Masters degree.  Whilst at Sheffield, Rhiannon was lucky enough to be taught by Nigel Dunnett.

The John Lewis Rain Garden, designed by Nigel Dunnett

Those familiar with Nigel Dunnett will know about rain gardens, and there are many examples of commercial and communal rain gardens in Sheffield and throughout the country, like for example the John Lewis HQ Rain Garden in Victoria, London (designed by Nigel Dunnett, built by Landform). Urban landscaping is coming increasingly under pressure from flash floods, followed by drought conditions. This is a problem that is also tackled in Nigel’s RHS Greening Grey Britain 2017 exhibit for RHS Chelsea Flower Show, as featured in our previous blog, which Rhiannon will be working on at the show.

Taking inspiration from Nigel and her studies looking at the growing need for more sustainable urban water management, Rhiannon has designed a residential garden with lots of ideas for rainwater harvesting. Her design is for a young couple, and features both a front and back garden. Between the house facades is a walkway, allowing show visitors a 360° view of the gardens.

The Urban Rain Garden, designed by Rhiannon Williams

All rainwater that falls into the garden is redirected, stored and used within the garden, using down pipes, soakaways and discreet storage. The principal idea is to use the water within the garden first before excess water goes into the sewers. The planting is designed in zones, which respond to the differing amounts of water that could potentially come into contact with the plants. For example, the planting closer to the downpipes on the house is more suited to wetter conditions, but further away from the house, the planting blends to become more suited to drier conditions.

Whilst the rear garden will feature elements familiar to most residential gardens, including a patio, lawn and a dining area, the front garden will include a space for a compact car to park over a stormwater retention pond. This innovative idea features a metal grate over a soakaway pond, designed to still be attractive during the winter and summer months with varying water levels.

We will bring you more on The Urban Rain Garden and it’s news in the coming months. We will also write about Blind Veterans UK: “It’s All About Community” Garden and The Perennial Sanctuary Garden in future blog posts.