Connecting with nature – contemporary bee-friendly garden for designer’s debut at RHS Hampton


  • The Urban Pollinator Garden by Caitlin McLaughlin sponsored by Warner’s super-premium gin
  • Lifestyle show garden will buzz with on-trend ideas for attracting bees and insects
  • To be rehomed at Cransley Hospice in Northamptonshire after the show closes


A young designer’s debut show garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival will be packed with stylishly simple take-home ideas for attracting pollinating insects, to inspire city dwellers to create their own nature-friendly back gardens.

The contemporary Urban Pollinator Garden by Caitlin McLaughlin of Thrift Landscapes, RHS Young Designer of the Year 2016, will fuse design, function and wildlife-friendly values. It will be sponsored by Warner’s – maker of Honeybee Gin – which is helping to fund the permanent relocation of the garden to Cransley Hospice in Northamptonshire after the show closes.


With a strong biodiversity message, the garden is designed to attract bees and other insects using on-trend yet practical features. The space is designed to offer a place for people to relax after a long day at work, connect with nature, and surround themselves with pollinators, without the complexity of maintaining beehives themselves.

There will be no beehives in the garden – instead a honeycomb-shaped habitat wall, nesting sites for solitary bees and bumblebees, and pollinator-friendly planting which will all encourage a variety of wildlife into the garden.

Simple but strong design principles are important and will be seen throughout the layout and hard landscaping of the garden. Contemporary honeycomb shapes will feature throughout, forming the structure of the sculptural habitat wall packed with twigs and branches, and hexagonal paving will be dotted with specially-made bee-printed tiles to identify entrances to underground bumblebee nests. The wall will also feature the innovative and stylish Bee Bricks, the award-winning solitary bee home design from Green & Blue, inspiring visitors to the show to replicate at home by simply placing in their garden, building into a wall or retrofitting in a few simple steps. Crab apple trees will offer architectural structure and provide spring pollen for bees, and the shallow cobble pond, fed by corten piping, will be the perfect place for bees to drink.


The Urban Pollinator Garden has many links to Warner’s, which runs multiple conservation and sustainability projects across the country, including Operation Honeybee, a series of initiatives designed to fortify the UK pollinator population, by planting wildflower habitat in the countryside home of Warner’s in Northamptonshire, as well as offering education and training to local colleges. Driven by its Honeybee Gin, which was launched in partnership with the RHS, Warner’s actively engages customers to get involved, as each bottle of Honeybee Gin comes with a packet of wildflower seeds to grow your own bee-friendly botanicals at home.


As part of a wider partnership with the RHS, Warner’s has also sponsored a new beekeepers initiative, and each year takes hives from Falls Farm to the Heather Garden at RHS garden Wisley.


Garden Designer Caitlin (29) said: “Built by Conway Landscapes, this garden will represent the importance of pollinators, specifically bees, within our own gardens and the wider environment. Living in a city, it is sometimes easy to forget about wildlife and the role it plays within our ecosystem. This design allows people to have a contemporary garden that still caters for pollinators, providing them with food and nesting spaces. My aim is for it to have multiple take-home messages to allow other people to adapt or create in their own gardens.”


A peaceful, naturalistic-looking planting scheme will be used, with pops of colour from perennials woven through grasses. Bee-friendly plants in calming purples, whites, and pinks will be used throughout the beds, including Campanula ‘Hemelstraling’, Astrantia ‘Superstar White Giant’ and Digitalis ‘Sutton’s Apricot’, with bright colour dashes from Achillea ‘Terracotta’ and Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’ reflecting the heat of summer.


After the show closes, the garden will be rehomed at Cransley Hospice in Kettering, Northamptonshire, a charity local to both Caitlin and sponsor Warner’s, where it can be enjoyed by the patients, visitors and hospice staff for many years to come.

Warner’s (formerly Warner Edwards) was founded in 2012 by husband and wife team, Tom Warner and Tina Warner-Keogh, with the aim of ‘saving the world from mediocre gin’. Established on the family-owned Falls Farm in Northamptonshire, every bottle is hand-sealed and distilled in small batches on site using bespoke copper stills. Drawing water from their spring, growing seasonal botanicals, and collecting fresh honey from their farm’s own beehives – Warner’s is a farm-born, ‘graft’ gin created with a deep love of the land.

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