RSPCA Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre is inviting the public through its doors to take a peak at its award-winning RHS Chelsea Garden.
The stylish garden, designed by Martyn Wilson, has been relocated to the wildlife centre near Nantwich, in Cheshire, after making its mark during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 in May.
Martyn created a sanctuary for wildlife and people to enjoy and fittingly the garden now sits in an area that staff and volunteers at Stapeley Grange are transforming as part of a community wildlife project.
It will be open to the public on Saturday, September 30, which will be the first of five consecutive Saturdays when the public can admire the wildlife-themed features of the garden and its wonderful collection of plants and flowers free of charge.
Months of hard work has included five lorry-loads of displays, fittings, plants, trees and furniture being transported from London to Cheshire, to a site which is the focus of longer-term rewilding plans.
Around 900 trees have already been planted and plans are in place to create a wildlife meadow, which along with the garden will be used as part of the wildlife centre’s education work in the local community.
The design combines a garden with a wildlife sanctuary and draws its inspiration from walks in native woodland, a visit to Stapeley Grange’s sister centre at West Hatch and a volunteer’s view of enjoying nature from the watcher’s hide.
Stapeley Grange manager Lee Stewart said:
“It’s been a major operation to get it all up here to Cheshire and our staff and volunteers have put in so much work to make this possible. We’ve been preparing the site since mid-May with everything being dismantled in London and put on a lorry.
“For the last three months the plants, after being uplifted from the Chelsea Garden Show, were watered and cared for by our local volunteer gardening group.
“All the plants have now been planted up in the RHS garden and new courtyard area.This new garden will become the entrance to the site’s new conservation areas which we have been rewilding for the last few years. It will be a huge asset for our team here and will be a joyful place for the local community to experience.
“It gives them the opportunity to better understand how important it is to nurture wildlife in our outdoor spaces, while they can also pick up tips on how to build their own dead hedges and hedgehog houses like the ones featured in the garden.
“The message we are trying to convey is if we take care of nature then nature will take care of us. That is, being outside and spending time with plants and wildlife is good for our wellbeing and mental health.”
The garden celebrates how animals enrich people’s lives and how they can protect them. The beautiful space is teeming with plants which encourage wildlife to thrive or provide shelter for them. By creating fantastic habitats for birds, mammals and insects, while at the same time recycling garden materials, it hopes to inspire people to take action and help to reverse the decline in wildlife.
Martyn previously visited an RSPCA specialist wildlife centre and took inspiration from its dedicated rehabilitation work in the design, which won a prestigious silver-gilt medal from the Chelsea judging panel.
In the garden there are:
Native trees and shrubs which are vital for birds and wildlife, including pollinator-friendly plants.
A central water feature made from recycled plastic waste, which references the RSPCA’s rescue of almost 4,000 animals trapped in or injured by litter last year.
Features including: a raised ‘hide’ for watchers, a green roof, dead hedges, hedgehog houses, wall-mounted bee hotels and bat and bird boxes.
"Chainsaw sculptor Andrew Burgess has also created our own wooden otter sculpture as at Chelsea there was a bronze otter sculpture which was being loaned. Otters are a wildlife species we devote a lot of time and resources to at Stapeley. When they come to us orphaned or injured we work to rehabilitate them back to the point of release into the wild."
“The wood for the sculpture came from the old Scots pine tree that once stood close to where the sculpture has been placed in the garden courtyard. It is typical of the way the garden has been built using natural, sustainable and recycled materials.”
The RSPCA garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show marked the start of the charity’s 200th anniversary celebrations and was generously funded by Project Giving Back. Its relocation to Stapeley was made possible by a donation from the Samuel and Freda Parkinson Charitable Trust.
Garden designer Martyn (pictured with Stapeley Grange’s Evie Astbury-Field on site before the relocation) added:
“The RSPCA Garden is modern and stylish and shows that wildlife gardens don’t necessarily have to be informal. I really hope that after visiting people will be inspired to create their own wildlife sanctuary at home.”
Stapeley’s open days run for the next five Saturdays, up to Saturday, October 28, with opening times of 10am to 4pm. The garden will then reopen in April 2024. There is on-site parking and light refreshments will be available. The cattery will also be open to the public on these days only, and people interested in adopting one of the wildlife centre’s cats can visit the website for details of available cats.
Want to be involved? The centre is also looking for gardening volunteers to help maintain the garden, grounds and to help run future open days.
Anyone interested should email:
Pictured - Martyn Wilson, RSPCA Chelsea Flower Show garden designer at Stapeley Grange.