Indira Varma, Amanda Holden, Myleene Klass and Joanna Lumley join famous faces celebrating the power of rainwater with WaterAid at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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20 May 2024
Actor Indira Varma poses with stunning umbrellas made from climate-resilient flowers at The WaterAid Garden to highlight the power of rainwater and the importance of good water management to help ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to an unpre ...
Image: WaterAid/ Fiona Hanson

 

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Indira Varma, Amanda Holden, Myleene Klass, Joanna Lumley, Ruth Gummel, Nick Grimshaw and Aisling Bea were among the first visitors to the spectacular WaterAid Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show today. 

 

	Amanda Holden and Myleene Klass pose with a stunning umbrellas made from climate-resilient flowers at The WaterAid Garden to shine a light on the power of rainwater in helping to ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to climate change.
Amanda Holden and Myleene Klass pose with a stunning umbrellas made from climate-resilient flowers at The WaterAid Garden to shine a light on the power of rainwater in helping to ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to climate change.
Image: WaterAid/ Fiona Hanson

  

The stars helped shine a light on the global water crisis while promoting the importance of water management to combat the effects of climate change.  

  

They posed with stunning umbrellas made from climate-resilient flowers featured in the charity’s garden to highlight the power of rainwater in helping to ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to an unpredictable future.  

 

Actor Indira Varma - famous for her roles in Game of Thrones, Luther and Obi-Wan Kenobi and starring in the new series of Doctor Who – said:

“I was honoured to be one of the first visitors to WaterAid’s spectacular garden at the Chelsea Flower Show and inspired to learn about the message behind it – that water is precious, and it has the power to change lives. 

“It’s easy to take clean water for granted but one in ten people around the world don’t have this basic resource. This injustice hits women and girls hardest as they often carry the burden of collecting water, which takes up valuable time that could be spent in school, earning an income, or with family. And climate change is making it worse.

“WaterAid works with communities to develop suitable solutions, such as harnessing rainwater, which was showcased through The WaterAid Garden. It is a beautiful testament to the work they are doing around the world to help bring a reliable source of clean water that keeps flowing, whatever the weather.”

With support from grant-making charity Project Giving Back, The WaterAid Garden by award-winning landscape designer Tom Massey and celebrated architect Je Ahn feature flood and drought resilient plants to adapt to a changing climate. 

The centrepiece of The WaterAid Garden is a rainwater harvesting pavilion inspired by WaterAid’s work in communities around the world to help provide a reliable source of clean water, whatever the weather. The impressive structure, which is 3.6 metres tall and weighs 1.5 tonnes, which together with the soil tips the scales at a whopping 10 tonnes, allows all water that falls on the garden to be stored and utilised.

The spectacular garden is home to the tallest trees at this year’s show - the Alder trees, which are approximately 16m tall, chosen because of their adaptability to varying weather. Alder wood hardens in water and can survive submerged. The roots have nodules that capture nitrogen improving soil fertility and can absorb toxic heavy metals from the ground, helping to restore waste industrial land.  

“This has been an exciting and mammoth undertaking, creating a garden that not only looks striking but demonstrates how innovation can help us adapt to an unpredictable future.  

“In recent years, British horticulture has felt the effects of extreme weather - including heatwaves, drought and flooding. As our climate changes water scarcity and insecurity is becoming more commonplace – here in the UK and around the world. We can all do things to help mitigate climate change, such as improving soil health, planting greenery to provide shade, and, most importantly, managing water sustainably.”

Nick Grimshaw at The WaterAid Garden, which highlights the power of rainwater in helping to ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to climate change.
Nick Grimshaw at The WaterAid Garden, which highlights the power of rainwater in helping to ensure a lasting supply of water and adapt to climate change.
Image: WaterAid/ Fiona Hanson

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid Chief Executive, said:  

“The WaterAid Garden is a beautiful and thought-provoking way of celebrating our most precious resource – water – while also highlighting the need to adapt to the changing climate to ensure water keeps flowing, whatever the weather.

“Almost one in ten people globally lack clean water, and climate change is making the situation worse as more frequent flooding contaminates fragile water sources, while longer droughts dry up springs. At WaterAid, we are supporting people living on the frontline of the climate crisis, helping to ensure a reliable supply of clean water, which enables communities to thrive.

“The garden, made possible by Project Giving Back, is inspired by WaterAid’s work alongside communities across the world and we hope it will help people recognise the life-changing impact water has on everyone around the world.”

A recent WaterAid survey found that 4 in 5 UK gardening enthusiasts (82%) have noticed how hotter summers and prolonged heavy rainfall are affecting their garden, plants and home-grown produce.

Three in five (60%) are concerned about the impact of climate change on their lawns, plants and home-grown produce. Two-thirds (66%) say excess rainfall has proved an issue, while over a third (38%) have experienced increased heat stress, and 35% have struggled with water shortages. Nearly three in five Brits (58%) already collect rainwater for their gardens. 

WaterAid’s survey found that only 1 in 10 people (8%) feel very confident in their understanding of climate sustainable garden practices. 

 

Tom has included elements of The WaterAid Garden that can be used at home, so visitors can take ideas to help their garden thrive whatever the weather, while also demonstrating the bridge between local and global concerns and the value of water for all.  

Tom’s top tips for a water-wise garden are: 

  

  • Collect rain - install a simple water butt to gather rainwater; ensure there is an overflow pipe. 
  • Slow the flow of water through the garden to manage excess surface water, by designing swales, depressions or channels. 
  • Nurture the soil - it’s the best foundation for a climate-resilient garden. 
  • Plant the right plants in the right place 
  • Plan for floods and droughts in a changing climate - If you know your garden is prone to flooding, introduce natural swales or water channels that can help store and redirect water. These more ‘boggy’ areas can be planted with things that thrive in moist conditions, such as trees, which can draw a lot of moisture from the soil.  

 ENDS  

 
For more information, please contact: 

[email protected] or +44 (0) 7889 663749 or [email protected]. Or call WaterAid’s press line on 020 7793 4537, or email [email protected]

Notes to Editors: 

 

WaterAid  

WaterAid is an international not-for-profit determined to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. We work alongside communities in 22 countries to secure these three essentials that transform people’s lives. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 28 million people with clean water and nearly 29 million people with decent toilets. 

For more information, visit our website wateraid.org/uk, follow us on Twitter @WaterAidUK, @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress, or find us on FacebookLinkedIn or Instagram

  • 703 million people in the world – almost one in ten – don’t have clean water close to home.1   
  • 2.2 billion people in the world – more than one in four – don’t have safe water.1  
  • Almost 2 billion people in the world – one in four – lack soap and/or water to wash their hands at home, if they have a place at all.1   
  • 1.5 billion people in the world – almost one in five – don’t have a decent toilet of their own.1    
  • 570 million people in the world – 1 in 14 – have a decent toilet but have to share it with people outside their family. This compromises the privacy, dignity and safety of women and girls.2  
  • Almost 400,000 children under five die every year due to diseases caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. That's more than 1000 children a day, or almost one child every one and a half minutes.2  
  • Investing in safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services provides up to 21 times more value than it costs.3 

[1] WHO/UNICEF (2023). Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2022: special focus on gender. Available at: washdata.org/reports/jmp-2023-wash-households-launch (accessed 11 Jul 2023).   

[2] WHO (2023). Burden of disease attributable to unsafe drinking-water, sanitation and hygiene: 2019 update. Available at: who.int/publications/i/item/9789240075610 (accessed 24 Jul 2023). 

[3] WaterAid (2021). Mission-critical: Invest in water, sanitation and hygiene for a healthy and green economic recovery. Available at: washmatters.wateraid.org/publications/mission-critical-invest-water-sanitation-hygiene-healthy-green-recovery (accessed 1 Nov 2023). 

 

Project Giving Back 

Project Giving Back (PGB) is a unique grant-making charity that provides funding for gardens for good causes at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. PGB was launched in May 2021 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its devastating effects on UK charitable fundraising - effects that have since been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis. PGB will fund a total of 15 gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2024 and intends to fund up to 60 gardens at the show from 2022 - 2026.

Project Giving Back was established with funding from two private philanthropists who are RHS Life Members and keen gardeners. They wish to remain anonymous. PGB will help UK-based good causes recover from the unprecedented effects of the global pandemic by giving them an opportunity to raise awareness of their work for people, plants and the planet at the high-profile RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Find out more at www.givingback.org.uk.

Tom Massey and Je Ahn

Tom and Je first worked together collaborating on ’The Hothouse’ the landmark project for London Design Festival 2020. 

The exhibit highlighted the effects climate change is having on what we can grow, displaying a range of edible and exotic plants in a beautiful contemporary structure. The structure provided a regulated temperature and protective environment for the exotic plants, but with the warming climate these plants could potentially be grown outside in the UK a couple of decades from now. The exhibit was sited in a high-profile area of public realm opposite the Olympic Park in Stratford. 

Since then, Tom and Je have collaborated on a number of projects, ranging from public parks and landscapes in and around the City of London to an educational forest garden for a library in Lea Bridge.

Found out more at www.tommassey.co.uk and www.studioweave.com