Ginkgo, Monkey Puzzle & Japanese Cedar among unusual tree species in Forestry Commission garden at Chelsea

Ginkgo, Monkey Puzzle & Japanese Cedar among unusual tree species in Forestry Commission garden at Chelsea

Award-winning designer Sarah Eberle has unveiled an unusual collection of tree species to feature in The Resilience Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden is being created to mark the centenary of the Forestry Commission, and will feature exotic alongside native species – specially selected to thrive in habitats that mimic existing and probable effects of climate change.

The Resilience Garden will champion the need for greater age, species and genetic diversity in forests of the future, to ensure they are resilient to climate change, pests and diseases.

Species revealed today include Araucaria araucana, more commonly known as monkey puzzle. Monkey puzzle enjoyed a spell of popularity in the UK during Victorian times and was once quite widely planted in this country. While native to the Andes, the hardy evergreen will tolerate almost any soil type, providing it drains well, and has the potential to provide a good nut crop in climates with cool oceanic summers.

Ginkgo biloba, commonly known as a ginkgo or maidenhair tree, is another ‘dinosaur’ species, having been found in fossils dating back millions of years to the early Jurassic period. Native to China, and planted widely in Japan and Korea, it is alleged that some planted trees are over 1,500 years old. The tenacity and endurance of the ginkgo is epitomised at Hiroshima, where six trees survived the atom bomb explosion in 1945.

The Resilience Garden will also feature tree species known for producing timber, though infrequently grown in this country. These include Japanese cedar(Cryptomeria japonica), considered an ornamental conifer but identified as a potential source of fast-growing timber.

The Forestry Commission is trialling different tree species on its estate to understand how they fair in diverse climatic conditions. Once planted, the saplings - some of which come from around the world - are continuously monitored and assessed, a practice that will continue for decades to come.

The results from these trials will help shape which species of trees are best suited to make up forests of the future, ensuring they are healthy and resilient for generations to come.

Both The Resilience Garden and its designer are inspired by Victorian gardener William Robinson - an early advocate for forestry who pioneered experimental planting and the creation of creation of wild, natural gardens on the Gravetye Estate in Sussex.

Robinson left his estate to be utilised for the purposes of State Forestry and it is now managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the William Robinson Gravetye Charity, with the aim of implementing Robinson’s vision for the whole estate and its woodlands.

The Resilience Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 has been designed by multi-award winning designer Sarah Eberle and will be built and planted by multi award-winning contractor Crocus. 

It is a project initiated by the William Robinson Gravetye Charity and is sponsored by Gravetye Manor Hotel & Restaurant, the Kingscote Estate, Forestry Commission and the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. DEFRA and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are project partners.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 is taking place from 21st to 25th May. The annual event, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society, is considered one of the most important moments on the gardening calendar.



For further information contact:
Meera Hindocha, Forestry Commission
0300 067 4363 | 07827 082355

Harry Shepherd, Forestry Commission
0300 067 4363 | 07920 542173

Note to Editors:

Forestry Commission

100 Years of Forestry: 1919 – 2019

Founded in 1919 to replenish the nation’s timber reserves in the wake of WWI, the Forestry Commission is England’s largest public landowner. It leads world-class research and actively manages over 1500 public forests and woodlands to benefit people, nature and the economy. It acts as the Government’s expert forestry advisors, helping to protect, improve and expand England’s forests.

Throughout 2019 the Forestry Commission will celebrate 100 years of forestry with a programme of events taking place throughout England. It will celebrate the vital contribution forests make to our wellbeing, economy and environment while looking ahead to the next hundred years.

William Robinson Gravetye Charity

‘The Resilience Garden’ is a project initiated by the William Robinson Gravetye Charity.

Gravetye Manor Hotel & Restaurant

The manor house at Gravetye was built in 1598 and purchased in 1884 by the horticultural writer and gardener William Robinson (1838-1935). Robinson restored the house, gardens and surrounding woodlands, which he left to the nation on his death in 1935.

During the Second World War the estate was taken over by the army for wartime use, while the woodlands were managed by the Forestry Commission.

Following a period of neglect in the mid-1950s, the house and gardens were taken over by Peter Herbert, who established Gravetye Manor as one of the UK’s leading country house hotels.

Later the hotel came under the ownership of long standing patrons Jeremy and Elizabeth Hosking, who embarked on a comprehensive programme of restoration and redecoration. This included restoring the gardens, re-creating the legacy left by Robinson by following his experimental style of gardening.

The Kingscote Estate

The Kingscote Estate has always focused on producing quality, distinctive wines with ambition, heart and passion. Nestled within the rolling hills in the heart of the West Sussex countryside, Kingscote offers something truly unique.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.1 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrates its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

Defra is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. The Resilience Garden is part of 2019’s Year of Green Action, a year-long drive to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.

APHA is an executive agency of Defra working to safeguard animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy.