THE no-dig garden ON SHOW
Kitchen Garden|August 2021
With fellow no-dig champion Charles Dowding, Stephanie Hafferty has been working very hard on their show garden for July’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. Here’s an account of how they prepared for it
Stephanie Hafferty

I still can’t quite believe that in July(6-11), at Hampton Court Palace GardenFestival, I will finally see the RHS NoDig Allotment Demonstration Garden I co-designed with Charles Dowding. It has been quite a journey getting there.

In late 2019, the RHS approached Charles and me to ask whether we would design a show garden for the festival in July 2020. What an exciting opportunity! The difficulty was the timing, as we are both practical gardeners and this is a very busy time of year, especially for Charles, who has a market garden. So it was agreed that I would adapt my garden at home so that I could leave it for the three weeks or so that I would need to be at Hampton Court for the build, the festival itself, and dismantling the exhibit afterward. Charles would attend as much as he could during the show.

So we set to work designing a no-dig allotment for the show. It was important to keep this a secret until the RHS announced it during spring 2020. Of course, we could not have imagined for a moment what would happen to change the world that year. The show was firstly postponed to September and then canceled completely until 2021. Changes to the construction team, and new safety regulations due to Covid, have changed the design to a degree, but the key elements that we wanted to include remain the same.

Neither of us had ever designed a large show garden before, but I had designed, built, and grown the plants for several ‘pop-up’ demonstration no-dig allotment gardens at festivals in my local area. The prospect of designing something that would be seen by so many people, potentially across the world, was very exciting, and a bit daunting too!

THE DESIGN

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