Career changers to be celebrated at RHS Tatton

Above: The Safe Space Garden – designed by Chris Reynolds, as a nourishing and inclusive space to aid victims of crime in their recovery.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announces the first designers to be featured in the inaugural RHS Career Changer of the Year.

Career Changer of the Year has been created specifically for new designers, plants-people, and contractors aged 31 and over to help kick-start their careers in horticulture.

Inspired by his experiences as a police officer and work in public services supporting victims of crime, Chris Reynolds’ The Safe Space Garden is designed as a nourishing and inclusive space to aid victims of crime in their recovery. The garden’s planting and use of water is designed to be immersive, rhythmic, and soothing, encouraging the user to engage with their senses and promote feelings of safety. Reynolds, who retrained in 2022, is working with Victim Support, a charity supporting people impacted by crime, to create his garden which will be relocated to one of their support centres after the show.

The Better New Build Garden, RHS Career Changer Garden, designed by Nadine Mansfield

After a 25-year career in marketing, Nadine Mansfield retrained in 2020 and now makes her RHS debut with The Better New Build Garden. Mansfield aims to inspire new build homeowners and property developers to make more of their outside spaces with a design that focuses on supporting wildlife. Her garden is packed with pollinator friendly planting, native hedges and trees for bird habitat, as well as reclaimed oak and gabion insect habitats to show how new build gardens, which are often left as bare soil or covered with artificial grass, can be turned into a wildlife paradise.

The RHS If a Tree Falls Garden, designed by Jon Pilling

Also focusing on planet-friendly gardening, Jon Pilling, previously a higher-level teaching assistant, explores sustainable gardening approaches in his The RHS If a Tree Falls Garden. The garden features reclaimed and recycled materials and explores how we can use what nature provides to minimise our impact on the environment. The planting design is inspired by the perennial movement and uses plants that can be found naturalised in the UK.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2024 also sees the return of RHS Young Designer of the Year which this year sees Ashleigh Aylett and Callum Corrie making their debut. Aylett’s design, The Woodland Trust: 49% Garden, highlights the importance of ‘trees outside woods’ and how the UK has lost 49% of these trees since 1850 due to pests, diseases, and other threats. In Entertaining Meets Nature, Corrie, who is also a part time wrestler, has created a garden that is sustainable and wildlife friendly, whilst also perfect for entertaining friends and family.

Lex Falleyn, RHS Tatton Park Show Manager, said: “When chatting to potential Show Garden applicants we noticed a trend in interested applicants who had previously worked in different industries. As a career changer myself, I felt it was important to highlight the benefits of changing into the horticultural sector and these new gardens would make an inspiring companion category alongside RHS Young Designer of the Year. Landscape design requires a diverse range of skills and it’s been so interesting to see just how many skills are transferable.”

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park takes place from 17-21 July. Tickets can be bought here:

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