The Chelsea Flower Show garden designed for World Horse Welfare has won a gold medal at the prestigious London event.
The charity’s entry was inspired by the story of rescued pony Clippy, represented in a detailed recreation of an overgrown, rundown paddock with a derelict stable, wild planting and equine sculpture created from horseshoes. The real Clippy was found in a small, neglected stable with strange clips attached to his head collar which had started to dig into his neck. He was in a terrible state.
Kindly funded by a private donor, the garden aims to shine a spotlight on ‘invisible’ horses around the world whose suffering goes unnoticed or ignored.
Votes are being taken for the People’s Choice Award, and World Horse Welfare is urging its supporters to vote for it, in the Artisan Garden category.
It tells the simple story of a horse rescued from a small, abandoned and derelict stable in a dark corner of the garden. He has been nursed back to health by the charity and now lives in a bright, open meadow in a more suitable environment under the charity’s care, where he can thrive and eventually be rehomed. A deliberately narrow stream runs through the meadow.
The walls and stable look centuries old yet were recently created for the show. The dark, overgrown feel of garden reflects the plight of a neglected and abused horse. The garden features a wide range of native plants including ragged robin, cow parsley and nettles. Beside the stable, wild flowers grow including buttercups, campion and naturalised Hesperis with its purple flowers.
The garden is designed to be thought-provoking and emotive, encouraging visitors to reflect on the plight of neglected and abused horses and take action to help them. The garden was funded by a private donor.
The garden was designed by Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith, and built by Conway Landscapes. The equine artwork, inspired by Clippy, was created by artist Tom Hill, who has been sculpting using horseshoes for six years. His sculpture contains shoes from a host of celebrity horses, including Olympic gold medalists Valegro and Big Star, several leading racehorses and eventers, and horses owned by the Royal family.
Woolcott and Smith grew hundreds of the wild flowers they used at the show in their own back garden.
“It has been a huge honour to design this garden for World Horse Welfare,” Smith said.
“We absolutely love working with British wildflowers and we don’t often have the chance to use poisonous ones in our garden so we’ve had great fun designing the area representing Clippy’s terrible living conditions. We’ve juxtaposed that with an area representing his new pasture showcasing horse herbs and beneficial plants. I’d like to thank our dedicated team who have all worked so tirelessly and cheerfully to make the garden happen.”
The garden also features a special tribute to just some of the many supporters who have left the charity a legacy in their will, with their names carved into an element of the garden in tribute. Inspired by his unique name, visitors will be asked to sign ribbons sewed onto lead rope clips with wishes for Clippy’s future.
“Whilst it was never the main aim of being here at RHS Chelsea, we are tickled pink to have been awarded this medal, not least because it reflects all the hard work put in by our superb designers and their team,” said World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers.
“Our garden gives us such a brilliant platform to tell a story that so well reflects the thousands of horses who desperately need our help today. It also provides us with the perfect stage to celebrate our 90th anniversary and recognise all those who have helped us reach this milestone, whether this has been through fundraising events, supporting our campaigns, volunteering at our centres or leaving us a gift in their Will.
“Thank you to RHS Chelsea for giving us this opportunity and to our generous donor who has so kindly funded the garden.”
Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, elements of the World Horse Welfare garden will be used as part of individual ‘In Memory’ gardens at each of the charity’s four Rescue and Rehoming Centres around the UK – creating a legacy which can be enjoyed by visitors to the centres for many years to come and highlighting how important gifts in wills are to the charity.