RHS Show Cardiff - University Research Garden

The couple I met who'd designed this show garden were most enthusiastic about what they'd done, but extremely nervous as they were about to hear the results of the RHS judging. It's a garden celebrating the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University and every aspect of the design had a meaning and connection with the university. Each of the original departments was represented in the bespoke sleeper steps; the plants were chosen for their connection to the university's research - for example daffodils for Alzheimer's treatment, chillis for cancer; recycled material such as PCs and bell jars were used as planters and cloches. Even the bicycle had a meaning as the first chancellor of the university went everywhere by bike.

This was my favourite garden for a number of reasons - those given above, plus the fact I studied at Cardiff for a year in the 1990's. Also, I may have had a hand (literally) in the materials used for the garden. On our last field course, we spent an afternoon at Llysdinam, the university's field research centre near Builth Wells, planting thousands of willow cuttings. My hand was blistered for a couple of weeks afterwards. The planting was for a major research project investigating the use of willow as a biomass crop. Willow from our planting was used to make the pictured fencing around the show garden. The garden was awarded an RHS Silver Medal - a great achievement for the first-time designers.


  1. Cool! I have to admit that if anyone made an 'Uppsala University Garden' at a gardening show I would be partial to that even if it looked like crap :) . This one is extremely good looking - the only thing you could ask for is a willow literarly marked with a name.

  2. what a nice post and a nice garden - love the words carved into the sleepers.
    (I am feeling much better VP, thank you)
    An Artist's Garden

  3. Lovely gardens. That's an interesting metal sculpture on the left. I'm curious about willows as biomass, though--does that mean they are used for energy?
    Ah, Dr. Who. Brings back memories from many years ago, though I didn't watch it regularly.

  4. Hi VP,
    I too studied at Cardiff. Though a while before you ...

  5. Rosengeranium - hello! Perhaps you could persuade them to do it? Show them this garden to gwt them going...

    Karen - Glad you like it and I'm glad you're better :)

    Rose - the sculptures represent DNA, genetics research is one of the uni's strengths

    Sue - it's a small world isn't it?


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