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RHS Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

Clean water should be a normal part of daily life for us all – but it isn't. Almost one in ten people around the world don't have clean water close to home and, as springs dry up and floods pollute vital water sources, climate change is making it worse.

Here in the UK, our gardens are often the first places where we feel the effects of extreme weather like heatwaves, droughts and floods. And, as our climate changes, water supplies are becoming increasingly unreliable.

The WaterAid Garden

The WaterAid Garden celebrates the power of our most precious resource: water.

Inspired by our work with communities around the world, it showcases how, with careful planning and water management, resilient, beautiful gardens can thrive – even in the face of an unpredictable future.

Explore The WaterAid Garden

Take an immersive virtual tour through the garden, and discover more about its unique features:

We won gold!

We're delighted that The WaterAid Garden was awarded a gold medal at this year's Show.

We won gold!

We're delighted that The WaterAid Garden was awarded a gold medal at this year's Show.

The WaterAid Garden

The WaterAid Garden celebrates the power of our most precious resource: water.

Inspired by our work with communities around the world, it showcases how, with careful planning and water management, resilient, beautiful gardens can thrive – even in the face of an unpredictable future.

Explore The WaterAid Garden

Take an immersive virtual tour through the garden, and discover more about its unique features:

Plant list

Explore the full plant list, and learn more about our star specimens:

Red yucca

Credit: Fritz Hochstatter

Credit: Fritz Hochstatter

Red yucca

Hesperaloe parviflora

With its ability to tolerate extremes of both cold winters and increasingly dry summers, the red yucca is perfect for the changeable British climate.

Bogbean

Credit: Krzystztof Ziamek

Credit: Krzystztof Ziamek

Bogbean

Menyanthes trifoliata

A native plant that grows in shallow water around ponds, bogbean supports biodiversity by providing shelter for amphibians and nectar for insects.

Field maple

Credit: Dean Morley

Credit: Dean Morley

Field maple

Acer campestre

A sturdy, pollution-resistant native tree. The field maple is excellent for biodiversity, supporting caterpillars and aphids – and, in turn, their predators.

Alder tree

Credit: Stephen McWilliam

Credit: Stephen McWilliam

Alder tree

Alnus glutinosa

Nodules on the alder’s roots capture nitrogen, improving soil fertility, and can also absorb toxic heavy metals from the ground, helping to restore wasteland.

Relocating The WaterAid Garden

The Garden is moving to Manchester's Castlefield Viaduct, opened as a sky park by the National Trust in 2022, where it will inspire even more people to use water wisely.

Castlefield Viaduct

Artist's impression of The WaterAid Garden at Castlefield Viaduct.

Artist's impression of The WaterAid Garden at Castlefield Viaduct.

In its new home, the Garden will help with the ongoing transformation of this historic steel viaduct into a beautiful sky garden in the heart of the city. Free to access all year round, the park celebrates the area's industrial heritage while providing vital green space.

The WaterAid Garden at Castlefield Viaduct will open to the public in 2025.

What we do

At WaterAid, we work with local partners and communities to make clean water – along with decent toilets and good hygiene – a normal part of daily life for everyone, everywhere.

The solutions we come up with together – like rainwater harvesting systems – are straightforward, affordable, and easy for the people using them to maintain, long into the future.

Our approaches may often be simple, but their impact is transformative.

With a reliable supply of clean water, children can stay healthy and go to school. Adults can focus their time and energy on earning a living and caring for their families. And whole communities can start to thrive, unlocking a brighter future for generations to come.

There was no water in the facility... We used to face a huge shortage.

With the support of WaterAid, we've started rainwater harvesting. This has changed everything in our health centre.
Gashawbeza Shegaw, clinic manager, Oromia, Ethiopia.

Harvesting rain – and opportunity – in Bangladesh

Komola Munda has more time to do what she enjoys – and earn a living doing it – thanks to her local rainwater harvesting plant, installed by WaterAid and partners in 2018.

23-year-old Komola, a tailor and mother of one, lives in Satkhira, southwestern Bangladesh.

Like many across the region, Komola's community has been hit hard by climate change.

People living here are caught between two extremes: searing heat and droughts cause local water sources to dry out, while frequent floods pollute those that remain.

Before the construction of the plant, Komola and her neighbours had no choice but to rely on dirty pondwater for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Diseases were common, and the time spent fetching water was time that could be better spent with family or earning a living.

It was very difficult to get clean drinking water; we had to walk a long way.

Now we don’t have to walk far, we have more time with our families, more time to tend to crops, and I can spend more time doing my tailoring.

Komola's proud to have been elected as the plant's caretaker and, thanks to training from our local partner organisation, she's fully equipped to keep the water flowing – whatever the future brings.

Flourishing crops – whatever the weather – in Mali

Mayaman Malle waters a lush crop of onions in the women’s market garden where she’s worked for 20 years. Set up by women in the village of Tigama, southern Mali, it’s a vital source of income for the community here. But, as Mayaman knows all too well, a garden is nothing without water.

We started with two wells that dried up; the water wasn’t clean. We could hardly make one harvest per year.

In the last decade, rainfall in the region has more than halved, making it harder and harder for women like Mayaman to grow the food they and their families rely on.

Community efforts to find a solution were boosted by support from WaterAid and our local partners. Together, we dug a borehole, built a water tower, and installed a network of taps at key points in the area, including the garden.

Gardening means a lot to us.

We eat and sell the vegetables we grow, which enables us to increase the quality of our food, and to generate money to cover for other expenses.

Now, the garden is thriving – and so is Mayaman.

Our work in Tigama was made possible by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Komola Munda carries a container of clean water from the community rainwater harvesting plant.

Credit: WaterAid/ Fabeha Monir

Credit: WaterAid/ Fabeha Monir

Mayaman Malle waters onions in the community garden in Tigama, Mali

Credit: WaterAid/ People’s Postcode Lottery/ Basile Ouedraogo

Credit: WaterAid/ People’s Postcode Lottery/ Basile Ouedraogo

What we do

At WaterAid, we work with local partners and communities to make clean water – along with decent toilets and good hygiene – a normal part of daily life for everyone, everywhere.

The solutions we come up with together – like rainwater harvesting systems – are straightforward, affordable, and easy for the people using them to maintain, long into the future.

Our approaches may often be simple, but their impact is transformative.

With a reliable supply of clean water, children can stay healthy and go to school. Adults can focus their time and energy on earning a living and caring for their families. And whole communities can start to thrive, unlocking a brighter future for generations to come.

Harvesting rain – and opportunity – in Bangladesh

Komola Munda has more time to do what she enjoys – and earn a living doing it – thanks to her local rainwater harvesting plant, installed by WaterAid and partners in 2018.

Komola carries a jug of clean water from the nearby rainwater harvesting plant.

Credit: WaterAid/ Fabeha Monir

Credit: WaterAid/ Fabeha Monir

23-year-old Komola, a tailor and mother of one, lives in Satkhira, southwestern Bangladesh.

Like many across the region, Komola's community has been hit hard by climate change.

People living here are caught between two extremes: searing heat and droughts cause local water sources to dry out, while frequent floods pollute those that remain.

Before the construction of the plant, Komola and her neighbours had no choice but to rely on dirty pondwater for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Diseases were common, and the time spent fetching water was time that could be better spent with family or earning a living.

It was very difficult to get clean drinking water; we had to walk a long way.

Komola's proud to have been elected as the plant's caretaker and, thanks to training from our local partner organisation, she's fully equipped to keep the water flowing – whatever the future brings.

Flourishing crops – whatever the weather – in Mali

Mayaman waters a flourishing crop of onions.

Credit: WaterAid/ People’s Postcode Lottery/ Basile Ouedraogo

Credit: WaterAid/ People’s Postcode Lottery/ Basile Ouedraogo

Mayaman Malle waters a lush crop of onions in the women’s market garden where she’s worked for 20 years. Set up by women in the village of Tigama, southern Mali, it’s a vital source of income for the community here. But, as Mayaman knows all too well, a garden is nothing without water.

We started with two wells that dried up; the water wasn’t clean. We could hardly make one harvest per year.

In the last decade, rainfall in the region has more than halved, making it harder and harder for women like Mayaman to grow the food they and their families rely on.

Community efforts to find a solution were boosted by support from WaterAid and our local partners. Together, we dug a borehole, built a water tower, and installed a network of taps at key points in the area.

Mayaman smiles as she stands in the middle of a flourishing onion crop.

Credit: WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

Credit: WaterAid/ Basile Ouedraogo

Now, the garden is thriving – and so is Mayaman.

Our work in Tigama was made possible by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Meet the Garden team

Award-winning landscape designer Tom Massey and celebrated architect Je Ahn, founding director of Studio Weave, co-designed The WaterAid Garden, combining Je’s architectural and art background with Tom’s horticultural and landscape design expertise.

The Garden was Je’s first time exhibiting at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Tom’s fourth. Between them, they have 30 years’ experience working in design and construction, collectively exhibiting at many shows and festivals both in the UK and overseas.

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers. Credit: WaterAid/ Fiona Hanson

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers. Credit: WaterAid/ Fiona Hanson

The message of our garden is one of hope, showing how resilience and innovation can help us all to adapt and flourish in the face of the climate crisis.

We'd like it to encourage visitors to think about ways to conserve water and incorporate elements of rainwater harvesting into their own gardens.
Je Ahn, co-designer

Meet the Garden team

Award-winning landscape designer Tom Massey and celebrated architect Je Ahn, founding director of Studio Weave, co-designed The WaterAid Garden, combining Je’s architectural and art background with Tom’s horticultural and landscape design expertise.

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers

Tom Massey and Je Ahn, garden co-designers

The message of our garden is one of hope, showing how resilience and innovation can help us all to adapt and flourish in the face of the climate crisis.

We'd like it to encourage visitors to think about ways to conserve water and incorporate elements of rainwater harvesting into their own gardens.
Je Ahn, co-designer

The Garden's main feature, the rainwater harvesting pavilion, was fabricated by Cake Industries, with technical design support from Mule Studio. Sculpted beech timber seats were crafted in collaboration with sustainability-focused woodworker Sebastian Cox, and the open decking walkway was made from weathered steel by Surrey Ironcraft.

The WaterAid Garden has been made possible thanks to sponsorship from the unique grant-making charity Project Giving Back, which funds gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

With additional thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Project Giving Back

Tips and resources

Climate-resilient gardening

Check out Tom Massey's top tips to help your garden thrive, whatever the weather.

Rainwater harvesting technology brief

Discover more about the technology we use with this downloadable brief.

Plant list

Find out more about all the trees and plants in The WaterAid Garden.

Support our work

Solutions like rainwater harvesting have helped us reach over 28.5 million people with clean water – but millions more are still living without. Will you help even more communities transform their futures with clean water?

Discover more

Maria at the new tap in her village of Dalubo, Timor-Leste

What we do

We work with our supporters, partners and local communities to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal – for everyone, everywhere.

17-year-old Karimatu walks home after collecting water from a pond in Adamawa, Nigeria.

Climate change

The climate crisis is a water crisis – but together, we can help communities build the resilient systems they need to thrive, whatever the future holds.

Marta Cacilda, 73, fetching water from an almost-dry pond in Boane, Mozambique..

Climate whiplash

Meet some of the communities on the front lines of climate change, facing dramatic flips between both drought and flood.