This year, garden designer and ecologist Michael McGarr has designed the RHS and Tatton Park Rewilding feature garden. Their 10 metre by 10 metre area of showground has been left to 'grow out', allowing otherwise unseen plants to be showcased where they chose to grow, alongside Michael's designed space. The result is both easy on the eye and easy to manage. And the aim? To encourage gardeners to consider site-specific planting, biodiversity and, for at least a corner of our gardens, to be welcoming to wildlife.
McGarr worked closely with Tatton Park's Head Gardener, Simon Tetlow, in the build up to the show. In early spring, fencing was erected around their plot on the showground site, to protect it from visitors' feet and grazing deer. "Every time I checked over the fence, something new had appeared." says Simon. "Periwinkles, buttercups, daisies and by late June, it had turned into a sea of clover. It was so simple yet beautiful and quickly affirmed one of the key rewilding messages; to re-evaluate uncelebrated plants and seek out hidden beauty, no matter how small." Tune-in to Gardening with the RHS on www.rhs.org.uk/podcast from 22nd July and listen to Simon talk about the diversity and ecology of Tatton Park's wider landscape.
Michael also chose feature plants specific to the Parkland site for his RHS garden design. Sedge, soft rush, spotted orchids, hawthorn, field maple and teasels all grow wild and free across Tatton Park's 1000 acres. But like many wildlife havens, you may have to venture off the beaten track to spot them. Head away from the main drive, venture into quieter corners and you'll find rare and internationally important habitats. Both meres are on the RAMSAR List, as wetland sites of international importance, and Dog Wood is a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
Darren Morris is a Ranger at Tatton Park and sees first-hand how the native species featured in the RHS garden support wildlife across the Parkland. "The numerous plant species found in the parkland also support a vast array of insect and invertebrate life" Darren goes on to explain that managing grassland effectively is crucial for supporting biodiversity. "We manage the grassland to provide habitats for as many native species as possible" says Darren. "Our grassland is managed to allow a variety of sward lengths, this in turn supports many native plant species such as harebell, tormentil and speedwell. Added to this, many fungi species also thrive here. The longer grass sward in some areas of the park provides habitat for field voles, which in turn, then attract birds such as barn owls and kestrels to the Park." Tickets are still available for RHS Flower Show Tatton Park at www.rhs.org.uk
Here's how you can book and stay in touch with happenings at Tatton Park: