St James’s Piccadilly Garden

Paying homage to the revitalising influence of urban green spaces, this garden seeks to inspire visitors to cherish the earth and embrace transformative change.

St James’s Piccadilly show garden for RHS Chelsea 2024

Supported by Project Giving Back, the St James’s Piccadilly ‘Imagine the World to be Different’ garden is designed by award-winning landscape architect Robert Myers. Myers, a six-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist has a passion for culturally sensitive sites, having worked on prominent locations such as Exeter Cathedral, Hereford Cathedral, St Mary’s Islington, Southwark Cathedral, and Trinity College in Cambridge. Myers is working with Stewart Landscape Construction who will be managing the build.

The show garden’s design will be the basis of a restored, accessible garden at St James’s in Piccadilly. Around 400,000 people currently seek tranquillity and inspiration in the church, courtyard, and garden each year. As well as welcoming people in, however, St James’s reaches out: to people going through homelessness, to refugees and asylum-seekers; to those persecuted because of their sexuality or gender identity. The Chelsea garden will support efforts to raise £20m for The Wren Project, a scheme to restore and rejuvenate the historic, Wren-designed church and grounds, to amplify and increase St James’s extensive social outreach and environmental work.

The design

The show garden pays homage to the revitalising influence of urban green spaces, symbolising a message of hope and recovery while igniting the imagination of future generations to envision a different world. A counselling hut, designed by artist Ivan Morison references the counselling project in the St James’s church garden which has offered a safe and private space for around 5,000 hours of free drop-in counselling every year since 1982. An archway stands over the garden, reminiscent of the proposed gateways leading to the churchyard at St James’s Piccadilly.

“My design for the St James’s, Piccadilly Garden explores ideas around gathering, refuge, and the importance of restorative green spaces in the city, celebrating the history, social impact and environmental commitments of the church”, explained Myers.

The planting

Nature takes centre stage with a rich, biodiverse planting scheme. A diverse selection of climate-resilient trees, offer a place of restoration for visitors. As a nod to the ambience of St James’s, the ‘borrowed’ plane trees adorning the Chelsea show garden are reminiscent of the trees in today’s church garden, inviting people to unite and nurture the tradition of ‘conversations under trees.’

The garden’s inspiration extends to the resilient ‘pioneer plants’ that found a foothold in the ruins of St James’s after wartime bombings. These seeds, carried by the wind, represented new hope and growth. Seven such species will feature in the garden, serving as a reminder of nature’s resilience and its capacity for regeneration.

The garden will relocate to St James’s Piccadilly to create a welcoming and inclusive space for the congregation, local population and visitors, where nature has its proper place in the city, with contemplative green space in the heart of everyday life.