Sparsholt College is delighted to launch this year’s RHS Chelsea Garden entry ‘Rustic Recipes Reimagined’ which is inspired by tasty recipes from medieval cookery books that can all be foraged from the local countryside or grown in our very own UK gardens.  

The 2023 garden is designed by Sparsholt’s multiple-medal-winning-team including Chris Bird who is celebrating his 25th RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden design this year alongside winning the prestigious 2023 President’s Award from the Chartered Institute of Horticulture. The exhibit found at GPA008 takes inspiration from eating seasonally and sourcing locally to create fresh, nutritious and cost-effective recipes which have been used historically to make the most of our native surroundings.  

Sparsholt College students sourced ingredients from the college’s 183-hectare Hampshire campus and worked with chefs from Season Cookery School at nearby Lainston House to perfect the recipes which will be highlighted within the garden. Visitors will be able to discover recipes for sweet fruit parchment, vibrant hedgerow salad and nettle soup as well as finding out information about nuts, berries and greens.  

Visitors will be met with four distinctive habitats in this carefully crafted design created to inspire and reimagine our relationship with plants and reconnect with nature. A fruit grove with beehive, Modern Potager with Storage Shed, Flint Well Garden and Preparation Arbour with seating.  

The mixed hedgerow within the garden design highlights the importance of protecting local biodiversity for essential ecological balance. The hedgerow provides shelter, food and protection to wildlife such as hedgehogs, dormice, beetles, birds, pollinators and people. Increasing the complexity of the local habitat with more and denser hedgerows can reduce the impact of predators on vital species such as hedgehogs which are also known as ‘the gardener’s friend.’  

Sparsholt College is delighted to raise awareness of hedgehog protection within this garden as they are proud to hold a Silver Hedgehog Friendly Campus Award in collaboration with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and Students Organising for Sustainability UK.

The garden is also home to five RHS Plant of the Year 2023 entries for new ‘local’ plants. The innovative, new and low-input plant introductions include the Erysimum Colour Vibe Red (‘CDCERY01’), Lavandula x intermedia Exceptional (‘HILLAV’), Cordyline Magic Star (‘TUSO20’) and Geum ‘Orange Pumpkin’ bred by Hillier Nurseries, Hampshire. Alongside the Agapanthus Black Jack (‘DWAghyb02’) from Thompson & Morgan. All helping to provide enhanced sensory benefits, satisfying gardeners’ needs for curiosity, novelty and discovery – part of the recipe for life. 

The garden provides multi-sensory pleasures, through sight, sound, smell, touch as well as taste and aims to prove that no matter the size of your outdoor space, visitors can reimagine a rustic recipe that can help them connect and defend the future of our natural world by living more sustainably, locally and seasonably.  

Jaz, Sparsholt College Level 3 Horticulture Student said:  I am really excited for RHS Chelsea – I am especially interested in the conservation and the ecological benefits that our garden is looking to bring, we have lots of native planting and hedging. I cannot wait to see the garden finished – I can picture it so well in my head and am really looking forward to seeing and experiencing it.”   

Find out more about our 2023 garden entry