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The Royal Bank of Canada New Wild Garden, designed by Nigel Dunnett with The Landscape Agency, is a richly and beautifully planted garden within a strong sustainability theme, combining ecological awareness with artistic and sculptural use of materials. A visually-striking green-roofed garden studio, created from a refurbished shipping container is the garden’s centrepiece, sitting within waves of impressionistic, naturalistic colour and controlled wild planting. Reflecting pools capture all the rain water that falls on the garden and sculptural habitat ‘drystone’walls create ever-changing views for visitors. The garden takes the planting ideas of William Robinson and looks afresh at the tradition of quality and craftsmanship of the ‘arts and crafts’ movement to create a forward-looking interpretation of ‘The Wild Garden’.

Garden Office

The garden office is the most prominent example of recycling in the garden – a retired shipping container that has been around the world is converted into a stylish and attractive garden office/studio ( a ‘living building’ with habitat walls and living roof).

DECKING Wood is fantastic material that can be recycled again and again. The decking is constructed from a hardwood called Opepe. This was reclaimed timber from sea defences on Southend sea front, the boards were simply planed to reveal a fresh face for use as decking boards RAIN GARDEN

The RBC ‘New Wild Garden’ is a fully functioning ‘rain garden’ incorporating all the features of such gardens, which soak up, capture, store and utilize every drop of rain water that falls on the garden. This is a highly topical issue, relating to reducing or removing the amount of excess rainwater runoff that leaves hard surfaces, roofs and paved areas, and contributes to the problems of urban flooding. The RBC New Wild Garden, incorporates a functioning ‘stormwater chain’: rain that is not soaked up by the green roof runs off the roof down a ‘rain chain’ into the collecting pools, which overspill into diverse areas of planting (the planting is able to grow well in dry conditions, but will also take some flooding.)


A central solid element of the garden are undulating and sculptural dry stone walls that create a framework and backdrop to the colourful and naturalistic planting. Normally, dry stone walls require a lot of skill to create, and a ready and plentiful supply of local stone. However, these walls are made in a way that straight-forward for anyone to attempt, and are composed with ordinary, everyday, recycled and waste materials, stacked and placed in an artistic manner to provide habitats fora range of garden creatures.


Much of the inspiration behind the garden comes from the ideas and philosophy of William Robinson, the pioneering Victorian horticulturist and gardener, who wrote ‘The Wild Garden’, and introduced the Herbaceous Border to British Gardens and popularized the use of perennials. ‘The New Wild Garden’ for Chelsea 2011 updates all these ideas and puts them into a contemporary urban setting.

This paving is constructed from reclaimed granite kerbs, previously located at Exhibition Street, South Kensington. They now form the main pathway through the garden. The stone has been laid with gaps in-between to allow water to easily permeate into the planting.

Main features of the garden  
Main features of the garden  

poster explaining the main content of the garden