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UEA strikes silver at Chelsea

Tue, 20 May 2008

Climate scientists at UEA are celebrating after winning a Silver Medal for their debut garden at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show.

The experts from UEA's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Climatic Research Unit picked up the prestigious prize for their garden predicting future scenarios for UK gardeners under a changed climate.

It is UEA's first appearance at the famous horticultural event.

"We are really thrilled to win a silver medal for UEA's first garden at the Chelsea Flower Show," said Johanna Forster, an environmental scientist at UEA and one of the garden's designers.

"It has been a tremendously fun experience, but with a very serious message: climate change is real and we must all dig deep to mitigate its dangerous effects."

The specially-designed garden will consist of three distinct areas:

· A traditional 1950s garden featuring plant species that would have featured strongly at Chelsea in that decade. These include delphiniums, foxgloves, lupins, rhododendrons and azaleas.

· A 2050 garden in a 'low emissions future'. This is conditional on a global reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Plants are those currently grown in the UK in sheltered positions but which would thrive without protection in a low emissions future. Species include cupressus sempervirens, acacia dealbata, eriobotrya japonica (loquat) and the European fan palm chamaerops humilis.

· A 2050 garden in a 'high emissions future'. This is based on the continued burning of vast quantities of fossil fuels. Plants include species more usually grown in a cool conservatory for at least part of the year. With projected variable rainfall levels, soil cultivation will be key to successful gardening, as will providing occasional protection from increasingly damaging winds. Featured species include Italian cypress, which will tolerate high temperatures and variable rainfall. Others are bougainvillea, plumbago capensis, the parrot claw plant clianthus puriceus, and hardier cacti and succulents such as aeonium arboretum and aloe.

The garden is the concept of young UEA researchers Johanna Forster and Saffron O'Neill, working with Norfolk garden designer Ian Stanton.

Saffron said: "People cherish their gardens as much as their homes and we are showing what climate change might mean for gardeners by 2050, and why."

Visitors will have the opportunity to discuss climate change with UEA researchers who are staffing the garden for the whole week.

Funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, the garden is exhibited in the Continuous Learning area within the Great Pavilion at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea from May 20-24.
The garden design can be seen here: http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/2050garden/

UEA's Climatic Research Unit, founded in 1972, is widely recognised as one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change.

The UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, founded in 2000, is the national centre for researching what to do about climate change. It is headquartered at UEA and is a partnership of environmental scientists, engineers and social scientists at six major universities.