The Woo Group Review RBC Wealth Management, Chelsea Flower Show

RBC’s commitment to water conservation on display as it marks five year anniversary at prestigious flower show

Garden designer Matthew Wilson grew up with a love for the countryside, wildlife and the outdoors and realized at an early age the importance that fresh water had in preserving the natural world. Now, as Managing Director and principal designer at Clifton Nurseries in London, he combines these early interests when creating urban gardens underpinned by a commitment to conserving water. Using his breadth of experience in sustainable garden design, Mr. Wilson is partnering with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), to design the “Royal Bank of Canada Garden” at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next year (19 – 23 May 2015), the fifth year in a row RBC has presented a garden at this, the most prestigious event in the horticultural calendar.

“I want the garden’s visitors to explore a simple truism, that water equals life, in a way that resonates and empowers them to make small changes in their own gardens,” said Mr. Wilson. “The Royal Bank of Canada Garden will profile sustainable plants and landscape materials that work simultaneously to improve water efficiency throughout the garden. My hope is visitors leave with the impression that sustainable design can be easily maintained, while emphasising the timely message of water conservation and protection.”

The sustainable garden will highlight practical urban water management, including water saving and harvesting solutions for home gardeners. This is in keeping with the goals of the RBC Blue Water Project – a wide-ranging, 10-year global commitment to help protect the world’s fresh water resources.

Drawing inspiration from Mediterranean gardens, the design is divided into three main parts: a zero irrigation ‘dry garden’, a central water harvesting and storage zone, and an edible garden. The garden is designed to be easy to live with and demonstrate that plants do not require artificial irrigation if chosen and placed correctly.

“Throughout the garden, I’ve chosen plants for their ability to withstand drought conditions, reducing the need for irrigation. I am especially excited for the garden to showcase a ‘macro bonsai’ olive tree, a first for the show,” continued Mr. Wilson. “Drawing on the growing trend of urban farming, there will be also be a range of fruits, vegetables and herbs that are edible and sustainable.”

At the heart of the design, visitors can explore the space on a sustainable wood ‘floating’ terrace, which conceals a large storm water storage tank that helps maintain water levels in the garden’s water features and flood basin. At full capacity, this flood basin creates a simple water feature. However, as water levels drop, a beautiful carved stone feature symbolising the fragility of river ecosystems is revealed and eventually fades to a dry riverbed.

“Matthew’s design embodies the goals and principles of the RBC Blue Water Project,” said Stuart Rutledge, CEO of RBC Wealth Management – International. “We are thrilled to be partnering with him for the 2015 Chelsea Flower show and believe his ability to express sustainability through design and bring it to life in a stunning water-wise garden is laudable.”