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Out of Africa - Chelsea debut for one of Fauna & Flora’s star performers


We’re excited to announce that Fauna & Flora will be living up to its middle name and making its RHS Chelsea Flower Show debut in 2023, with a show garden designed by Chelsea Gold Medal-winner, Jilayne Rickards, and landscaped by award-winning landscaper, Tecwyn Evans, Living Landscapes.

Our show garden is sponsored by Project Giving Back, a scheme established to enable charities and not-for-profit organisations to raise awareness of their work by staging a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. For Fauna & Flora, this is an invaluable opportunity to showcase our global conservation work, at a time when recognising the links between nature protection, climate action and human well-being is more important than ever.

The Fauna & Flora International Garden will give visitors a window into the spectacular Afromontane landscape of Central Africa and the fascinating habitat of the endangered mountain gorilla. Centred around the theme of ‘collaboration’, it will tell the story of the tremendously successful International Gorilla Conservation Programme, which began life as the Mountain Gorilla Project, originally established by Fauna & Flora in 1978 following a heartfelt plea from Sir David Attenborough.

The garden will be inspired by the fauna and flora of Central Africa’s Afromontane forests. Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras/Fauna & Flora

The fate of mountain gorillas ultimately lies in the hands of the communities who live side by side with these iconic great apes, and on transboundary cooperation between the three range states – Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – across whose borders they are free to roam. By profiling this vital work, we hope to demonstrate the critical importance of protecting nature and how this can be best achieved by putting people and collaboration at the heart of conservation efforts.

Mark Rose, CEO of Fauna & Flora, comments: “The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become, in recent years, not just the flagship event for the gardening world, but a wonderful platform for charities and organisations to raise awareness of wider issues affecting the planet and the people on it. Project Giving Back has funded some fantastic causes in the last year – including Rewilding Britain, Mind and RNLI – and we are delighted to have been selected as one of its 2023 charities. 2023 will mark 120 years since Fauna & Flora was first founded to protect species and wildlife across the world, so it will truly be a remarkable year for us.

“Focusing on the success of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme in Central Africa, which is the work of multiple conservation partners, our show garden aims to demonstrate that collaborative, community-focused and locally led conservation – that brings together governments, corporates and local enterprise – offers the most sustainable solution to the twin biodiversity and climate crises. We believe that people and collaboration need to be at the heart of conservation efforts and we’re looking forward to delivering this message at Chelsea next year.”

The Fauna & Flora International Garden will map the journey of an ecotourist on a mountain gorilla trek, tracing a rough track through a succession of lush and changing landscapes on either side of the Protected Forest Area boundary wall, each side showcasing the spectacular flora found in the area – from the African tulip tree, to Lobelia stuhlmannii, to a range of medicinal plants including Brillantaisia, Moringa, Leucas, Tagetes and Tithonia.

Beautiful Brillantaisia, a medicinal plant used for various ailments in Africa. Credit: Camilla Rhodes/Fauna & Flora

Along the way will be a medicinal garden shaded by Eucalyptus and banana trees; a typical gift kiosk selling local artisanal crafts; a true-to-life gorilla nest set amongst bamboo; and an entrancing waterfall and viewing rock, surrounded by unusual plants found only at high altitude.

Giant lobelias and groundsels growing on the summit of Mt Muhabura, on the border between Rwanda and Uganda. Credit: Juan Pablo Moreiras/Fauna & Flora

Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, our garden will be relocated to the Tropical Biome of the Eden Project in Cornwall – meaning it will be around to help educate and entertain millions of people for years to come. The Eden Project will be playing a key role in our garden, as it will be growing and supplying the majority of the plants too.

The main star of the show, of course, is our garden designer, Jilayne Rickards, who has been designing and creating gardens for over 20 years. In 2019, Jilayne made her phenomenal show garden debut with the CAMFED Garden, which won both a prestigious RHS Gold Medal and the BBC/RHS People’s Choice Award.

Garden designer Jilayne Rickards inspecting plants growing near Volcanoes National Park. Credit: Camilla Rhodes/Fauna & Flora

Jilayne comments: “I am delighted to be working with Fauna & Flora International on its debut Chelsea Flower Show garden; we’re bringing a slice of the Afromontane volcanic high-altitude forest to central London and, while the garden is centred around the megafauna that is the mountain gorillas, it will also highlight the outstanding plants in the landscape that provide home to a diverse range of species. Over the coming months, we will be sourcing a plethora of exotic and unusual plants with help from the Eden Project, which will be supplying the majority of the plants.”

“Aligning with Fauna & Flora’s ethos, I have worked with Tecwyn and our suppliers to ensure the garden will be a true model of sustainability, including in its use of materials, recycling and reuse. We therefore hope to provide gardeners and visitors to Chelsea with plentiful ideas for how they can make their own gardens more sustainable, while encouraging them to question their resources and explore how they can better contribute to a circular economy.”