Mary Anning is inspiration for RHS Chelsea container garden

The Mary Anning Space to Learn Garden by Julie and Andrew Haylock is inspired by the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning, from Lyme Regis.

Born into poverty, Mary’s gender, standing in society and lack of formal education was a barrier to her being fully credited for her geological discoveries that would provide important evidence of our own evolution. She was finally given a statue in Lyme Regis in May 2022. 2023 marks the 200th anniversary of her discovery of a complete fossilised plesiosaur.

The garden

This outdoor learning space garden, which will be relocated to Charmouth Primary School after the show, uses nature, fossils, geology, and plants to spark the imagination of lesson time.

The hollow tree stump containers resembling volcanoes are planted with Jurassic effect plants, and carved wood seats provide a space to sit and learn.

Composite stone ammonites between large crazy paving steppingstones, engraved with the school yard tongue twister, ‘She sells seashells on the seashore’, reportedly written about Mary, challenges the children to recite the rhyme as they step from stone to stone, leading them to find the Plesiosaurus fossil Mary discovered in 1823.

Dicksonia antartica

Planting/Colour Scheme
Statement plants in the garden include Pseudopanax crassifolius, a native of New Zealand that provides height and a Jurassic looking focal point to the planting, and Dicksonia antarctica. These provide height and shade to the garden with fronds that will soften the boundary wall of the garden.

The designers

Julie Haylock from Sandhurst Garden Design in Yeovil studied at Kingston Maurward College in Dorset. The college had their own RHS Chelsea garden last year and in 2019. Julie and her husband Andrew are first-time exhibitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The show

The garden will go before the RHS judging panel on 21 May before the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 opens to the public from 23 to 27 May.