‘We owe it to our children to ensure they still get to enjoy British wildlife,’ says Steve Backshall
The RSPCA is teaming up at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with award-winning designer, Martyn Wilson, to create a stylish sanctuary for wildlife and people alike – and it has a very important ‘take-home’ message.
A contemporary interpretation of a wildlife garden, The RSPCA Garden highlights the public’s vital role in protecting wild animals and birds. As well as looking beautiful, it is packed with ideas you can easily recreate at home, whatever space you have, and is designed to challenge the view that wildlife gardens are untidy or unfashionable.
RSPCA vice president Steve Backshall said we owe it to future generations to take action now.
The TV wildlife host said: “We owe it to our children to ensure they still get to enjoy British wildlife like previous generations before them. But the rapid decline of some of our most loved species like hedgehogs, red squirrels and some butterflies means some of our favourite British animals may soon only exist in zoos. This is terrifying, and should spur every single one of us into taking action.
“We are reaching a critical turning point but we can take positive actions now to help create the future we want for our children, our wildlife and our planet.
“Everyone can join the RSPCA to be a Wildlife Friend volunteer, picking up litter to prevent an animal getting injured, putting down a saucer of water for thirsty birds or making a simple bug hotel to give bees somewhere to rest.
“These tiny acts of kindness can collectively make a huge difference for the wildlife we share our communities with, and which we rely on for our survival.”
The RSPCA is hoping the Chelsea project inspires people to carry out small acts of kindness for wildlife they share their neighbourhoods with, as part of their Wildlife Friends scheme.
A raised wildlife-watching ‘hide’ made from UK-grown Douglas fir and larch, with a green roof and wall-mounted bee hotels, is designed to be a refuge in nature for an RSPCA volunteer after a busy shift. Elsewhere in the garden, natural stone feature walls house contemporary bird nesting boxes; while a modern corten steel interpretation of a ‘dead hedge‘, with hidden hedgehog houses, creates habitats for birds, mammals and insects, whilst also recycling garden materials.
A central water feature formed from recycled plastic waste is a nod to the RSPCA rescuing almost 4,000 animals trapped in or injured by litter last year (2022). Providing movement, sound and a drink for wildlife, it symbolises the rescue-rehabilitate-release cycle of care given to thousands of animals at the charity’s four specialist wildlife centres.
Enclosed by hedging and a canopy of native trees and shrubs vital for birds and wildlife, planting is in a multi-layered naturalistic style in shades of green, whites and tones of blue with pollinator-friendly plants. A bronze sculpture of two otters, by Simon Gudgeon, is inspired by otters in the charity’s care.
The project is being generously funded by Project Giving Back, and the garden will be relocated at the end of the event to RSPCA Stapeley Grange, the charity’s wildlife rehabilitation and education centre in Cheshire, in time for the charity’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2024.
It will continue to provide sanctuary for wildlife, but also for visitors – including young people, families and vulnerable adults, who already visit the centre for support with emotional wellbeing and resilience. The space will bring essential animal welfare education to communities who have fewer opportunities to get out and about in nature.
There are about 23 million gardens in the UK. The area of all the gardens in England together is more than four times the amount of land in nature reserves*, so gardens are the secret weapon in saving our much-loved British wildlife from this devastating decline.
Designer Martyn visited an RSPCA specialist wildlife centre and took inspiration from its dedicated rehabilitation work in the design of his garden. He said: “The RSPCA Garden is modern and stylish and shows that wildlife gardens don’t necessarily have to be untidy. I really hope people will be inspired to create their own wildlife sanctuary at home.”
Notes to editors:
- *Wildlife decline from National History Museum study
- Favourite animal research carried out by Channel 5.
- *Figures from the Wildlife Gardening Forum, a registered charity.
Catherine Peerless, RSPCA head of media 07817 550270 firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucy Cooper, RSPCA national press officer 07990 717074 email@example.com
Emma Mason, Emma Mason PR (for Wilson Associates Garden Design) 07762 117433 firstname.lastname@example.org