The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk was designed by Rosy Hardy and built by Bowles & Wyer Contracts. This is Rosy Hardy’s first Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk delivers an important message to highlight the importance, and the fragility, of chalk streams and the dangers they are enduring. Climate change, pollution, and man’s own intervention have all contributed to the loss of chalk streams, which provide a beautiful, unique and vital habitat to many plants and a vast array of wildlife. There are now only 200 chalk streams flowing on Earth, the majority of these reside in the south of England, where they are in danger, threatened by climate change, pollution, and abstraction. The River Test, which flowers through Freefolk in Hampshire is a good example of a chalk stream, and accordingly has been represented in this special garden. Fed from groundwater aquifers, water is filtered through the chalk, this filtering produces water of high clarity and high mineral content, the water is enriched with calcium, iron and other minerals found within the chalk. This high quality water, provides a rich habitat and an eco-system for a vast array of wildlife – all aspects of the food chain thrive in and around chalk streams. Insects and other invertebrates prosper in the this special environment, in turn they provide a rich food source for the fish that live in these crystal clear waters. Watercress, water crowfoot, and starworts, are among some of the plants that flourish in the gravel beds of chalk streams, providing shelter from predators for fishes. Many plants grow readily on the river edges and margins, creating a beautiful, picturesque environment that should be celebrated and enjoyed. Sadly, the reality today is that only 25% of chalk streams are in good condition, abstraction for drinking water has caused some chalk streams to dry up and disappear, and pollution and run off from agricultural farming has contaminated waters. Fish farms and commercial growing of watercress near to chalk streams can also upset the balance of these fragile waters and environments. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk, invites visitors to see the potential for positive change and renewal, encouraging us to protect, value and look after the precious chalk steams we have remaining, whilst highlighting the sense of loss felt for the chalk streams that have now been lost forever.

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