Public agrees that “Donkeys Matter” as artisan garden voted best at Chelsea

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"Donkeys Matter" has won the People's Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show.
“Donkeys Matter” has won the Artisan Garden People’s Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show. © The Donkey Sanctuary

The ‘Donkeys Matter’ garden has won the People’s Choice award in the Artisan Garden section at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London.

The People’s Choice award is often regarded as the one that means the most, as it demonstrates the personal choice made by members of the public. The award follows on from the silver medal awarded to The Donkey Sanctuary’s garden by the judging panel on Tuesday. The show ends on Saturday.

The ‘Donkeys Matter’ garden marks The Donkey Sanctuary’s 50th anniversary and is designed to showcase the charity’s international work. Using water as its central theme, the garden demonstrates how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world.

“What incredible news to end a fantastic week! Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted for our garden,” said Mike Baker, CEO of The Donkey Sanctuary.

“This is a win not only for us, but for hard-working donkeys around the world. To our garden designers, Annie and Christina, thank you for showcasing why Donkeys Matter in such a beautiful way.”

"Donkeys Matter" has won the People's Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show.
© The Donkey Sanctuary

A key garden design feature is a path traversing from bottom left to top right representing the many journeys donkeys carry out on behalf of communities to support their livelihoods. The garden also includes a shelter and a well with a dripping bucket.

It was designed by Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams and built by Frogheath Landscapes. The plants were grown by How Green Nursery.

The Donkeys Matter garden will be brought back to the charity’s international headquarters in Devon where supporters and visitors can enjoy the garden for years to come.

In places such as Namibia, Lamu, Somaliland and Ethiopia, donkeys will often collect 40 to 60 litres of water at one time. The simple act of a donkey carrying water reduces the time required to access it, freeing children to get an education and women to be economically active.

The planting of the ‘Donkeys Matter’ garden suggests the dry Mediterranean climate, including Mediterranean Sea Holly (Eryngium bourgatii), Iris ‘Langport Wren’ and Lavender ‘Hidcote’ (Lavandula angustifolia). The colour palette is claret, purple and silver, with bright, vibrant flowers bringing beauty and colour to the garden’s harsh surroundings. The trees in the space are Pine ‘Glauca’ (Pinus parviflora) and Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens).

Annie Prebensen of Williams and Prebensen Garden Designs with the Chelsea People's Choice Award for "Donkeys Matter".
Annie Prebensen of Williams and Prebensen Garden Designs with the Chelsea People’s Choice Award for “Donkeys Matter”. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Designers Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams trained at the English Garden School in London, and came together to set up their design practice in 2008. Their work together has mainly been in large private gardens in London and the South West of England.

In 2010 they won a Gold Medal and Best in Show at RHS Chelsea Flower Show for an Artisan Garden, celebrating 10 years of the Two Moors Festival, a Devon based music festival. They both live in Exmoor, in the South West of England.

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