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RSPCA Garden at RHS Chelsea 2023: A Silver Gilt Medal-Winning Oasis

We were delighted to be part of the RSPCA garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which was awarded a prestigious Silver Gilt medal. Created by award-winning garden designer Martyn Wilson, and funded by Project Giving Back*, the garden offered a modern, stylish interpretation of a wildlife sanctuary, inspired by native woodlands and the rehabilitation of wild animals. The garden showcased a fusion of natural, sustainable, and recycled materials, including Millboard decking; demonstrating how a garden can be both wildlife-friendly and stylish.


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A Winning Space For Wildlife To Flourish:

The garden at RHS Chelsea marked the start of the RSPCA’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2024. With an astonishing 50% of animals coming into the RSPCA’s care being wild animals, often injured or affected by human impact on their environment, the garden incorporated various wildlife-friendly habitats. It served as a stunning example of how a garden can be both aesthetically pleasing and provide areas for wildlife to thrive.

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A Lasting Legacy:

Now that RHS Chelsea is over, the garden has been dismantled and is on its way to its intended final home, the RSPCA’s Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire. There, it will play a vital part in the RSPCA’s community outreach programme, which aims to educate and engage individuals who may feel disconnected from nature and wildlife. The garden will demonstrate how everyone can get involved in caring for our wildlife and its native habitats.

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Key Features Of The Garden:

The garden featured a recycled plastic rill, providing a soothing flow of water and a peaceful spot for quiet contemplation, while serving as a water source for wildlife. Decorative steel ‘dead hedge’ baskets filled with prunings and a biodiverse green roof offer ideal habitats for all sorts of birds, mammals and insects. At the heart of the garden, a contemporary structure, resembling a wildlife observation hide, enables views out onto the wider landscape. Millboard’s Enhanced Grain Burnt Cedar decking, combined with the slimmer Enhanced Grain SB board, perfectly complemented the dark tones and pattern of the timber cladding used on the walls of the structure.

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Why Millboard:

Choosing the right material for the viewing platform in the garden was crucial as it had to be aesthetically pleasing to withstand the rigours of the judging process and the footfall at RHS Chelsea, while remaining durable in its eventual home at Stapeley Grange Wildlife Centre, where it will be subjected further, to a high degree of footfall. Having worked with Millboard in the past, Martyn was well aware of its authentic woodgrain appearance, low-maintenance properties, longevity, and slip-resistant features. After attending one of Millboard's Open Days at the manufacturing facility in The Midlands and consulting with a product specialist, he was confident that Millboard would be the perfect material.

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Garden Designer Martyn Wilson shares his thoughts:

“Naturally, anything used at Chelsea has to be beautiful to look at – Millboard ticks that box easily with its authentic woodgrain appearance. I really like the charred tones of the Enhanced Grain Burnt Cedar board – it’s modern but natural-looking at the same time. We also had to consider where the garden would end up – a busy visitors’ facility where it’s going to see a lot of footfall. Whatever we chose had to be low maintenance, long-lasting and slip-resistant, and after speaking to Millboard, I was convinced it was up to the task – it will look good for years to come.” Martyn Wilson, Garden Designer. 

Praise from Millboard Director, Guy Douglass:

Guy Douglass, Director at Millboard comments: “We’re so pleased that Martyn’s stunning design was recognised with a Silver Gilt Medal, it was truly well-deserved. The garden looked incredible and will do a great job of raising awareness of the value of the wildlife at Stapeley Grange. As a UK-based manufacturer committed to sustainability and natural harmony, we’re no strangers to RHS Garden Shows. We’re absolutely delighted that a designer of Martyn’s stature recognises that, as well as being a beautiful product, Millboard decking has lasting practical advantages that align perfectly with our commitment to wildlife preservation.”

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Elsewhere at Chelsea:

Elsewhere at RHS Chelsea, Millboard Enhanced Grain Smoked Oak was used in the show catering area, providing a beautiful slip-resistant surface in a much-frequented part of the show.

* Project Giving Back gives charitable organisations in the UK the chance to exhibit at show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to promote their cause while supporting the horticultural industry. Additional images can be found at the RHS website here.

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