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Fauna & Flora Garden

The Fauna & Flora Garden

Designed by award-winning garden designer, Jilayne Rickards for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023, the Fauna & Flora Garden maps the journey of an ecotourist on a gorilla trek, tracing a rough track through a succession of lush and changing landscapes.

Many of the garden's plants were grown in Cornwall, nurtured by horticulturists at the Eden Project, and the garden has now been moved from the Flower Show and is on display in Eden's Rainforest Biome.


The garden's design

The Fauna & Flora Garden aimed to demonstrate the critical importance of protecting nature and how this can be best achieved by putting people and collaboration at the heart of conservation efforts. To help achieve this, visitors to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show were offered a window into the spectacular Afromontane landscape of Central Africa.

The path led to a gorilla nest – set among bamboo and other typical gorilla foodplants – and a towering waterfall, surrounded by a variety of weird and wonderful plants. This ‘gorilla garden’ told the story of the endangered species and their habitat.

Following Chelsea, the garden and the plants were relocated to the Eden Project, ensuring visitors can be inspired by it for many years to come.

Key elements of the garden

  1. A brightly painted tourist gift kiosk brimming with artisanal craft goods

    One of the ways in which local communities benefit from responsible tourism is by making artefacts for tourists to buy. As part of her research, Jilayne Rickards visited a Rwandan women’s co-operative who were earning extra income by weaving baskets made from locally grown sisal.
  2. Cascading water

    For Chelsea, a five-metre-high waterfall was constructed. At Eden, this has transformed into a cascading mountain stream.
  3. The ‘forest boundary wall’

    This wall separates the human habitat from the Protected Forest Area – constructed from Gabbro stones.
  4. Beehive made from a hollowed-out trunk

    Covered with banana leaves, these traditional hives are placed along the boundary wall, providing honey for locals without them having to enter the Protected Forest Area.
Jilayne Rickards

The garden designer

Jilayne Rickards has been designing and creating gardens for over 20 years. In 2019, Jilayne made her phenomenal RHS Chelsea Flower Show debut with the CAMFED Garden, which won a prestigious RHS Gold Medal, the BBC/RHS People’s Choice Award and afterwards was relocated to Eden’s Mediterranean Biome.

Jilayne’s gardens are designed with biodiversity and sustainability in mind and are constructed using methods that reflect her determination to reduce the carbon footprint of her builds.

Catherine Cutler, Biomes Manager, Eden Project; Sofia Parra, Horticulturist, Eden Project; Jilayne Rickards, Garden Designer; and Cath Lawson, Senior Programme Manager, Eastern Africa, Fauna & Flora. (c) Stephanie Foote / Fauna & Flora

The Plants

Eden Project supplied many of the garden’s tropical plants for the garden when it was displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show – including banana plants, giant lobelia and African tulip trees. Each represents the many plant species that make up the mountain gorilla’s habitat and are critical to its survival. We don’t just need to protect the gorillas, but the biodiversity that surrounds them too.

Waterfall surrounded by plants at the Chelsea Flower Show


Unusual for a Chelsea show garden, the Fauna & Flora Garden was entirely cement and concrete free. 95% of its building materials were sourced within the UK, and the team recycled and reused as much as possible. Zero waste was sent to landfill. The boulders used to construct the boundary wall, for example, are a waste product from agricultural farming. A sustainable, soft engineering system involving interlocking, planted, soil-filled ‘Rootlok’ bags has been transferred from Chelsea to create retaining walls.

Why we're passionate about this partnership

The reason we support the Fauna & Flora project is simple – because we have the same values. The garden shines extra light onto our tropical West African exhibit area, where we can keep spreading its message of conservation through collaboration and the importance of biodiversity.

At Eden, we focus on the flora rather than the fauna, but now both are under high pressure and need immediate attention. The interdependency of plants and animals, and the challenges to protect both, are of the utmost importance.

This partnership allows us to amplify our shared, positive message of conservation – specifically the Fauna & Flora gorilla conservation story – to a much greater in-person audience (about 1 million+ annually), including a different demographic of people to those attending The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

About Fauna & Flora

Fauna & Flora has been protecting threatened species and ecosystems across the world for almost 120 years, developing and implementing conservation practices that are sustainable, based on sound science and that enhance human well-being.

It is a grass-roots focused organisation who believe that the protection and restoration of nature will be effective in the long term only if it is delivered by, or in close collaboration with, the local people living closest to it. Since Fauna & Flora began working with mountain gorillas, number have increased from just a few hundred to over 1,000 and led to the creation of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme.

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