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WWF 50th anniversary garden highlights freshwater conservation at Hampton Court

1 April 2011

WWF’s 50th anniversary garden, ‘Why we care about chalk streams’ will reveal the importance of water conservation in the charity’s work in the UK.

The WWF garden, created by award winning designer Fiona Stephenson and supported by the HSBC Climate Partnership, recreates a tranquil chalk stream with a twist to inspire visitors to protect the UK’s threatened rivers and eco-systems. The garden hints at a country scene with a chalk stream, but on closer inspection there are hidden messages - a giant plug and sphere artwork allude to this habitat being under threat from our over use and extraction of water.

WWF freshwater expert Rose Timlett, said, “A chalk stream is such a special habitat, stunningly beautiful with gin clear water and a perfect environment for wildlife and plants. But these rivers supply water to millions of people in the UK and it’s the demand for water that is threatening this eco-system. We hope our garden will inspire people to really think about their use of water and the impact they have on their surroundings.”

The design of the garden by Fiona Stephenson - who has won gold at Hampton Court Palace before - features the chalk stream as a centrepiece and includes a stone monolith representing the chalk aquifers that filter rainwater and are responsible for creating chalk streams. A bridge and viewing platform constructed from reclaimed timber and of course, the WWF Panda, take pride of place. Plants typically found around chalk streams or in alkaline soils such as Buxus (box), Taxus (yew), Scabious (pin cushion flower) and Centaurea (cornflower) intermingle with over oversized, naturalistic and exaggerated planting to create a theatrical ‘larger than life’ feel.

Fiona said, “I am delighted to be working with WWF, especially during their 50th anniversary year. The garden hints at a country scene but the abstract elements urge the visitor to discover the message within. ”

Maggie Crompton, Head of Corporate Sustainability, HSBC UK, said "Through our Climate Partnership, we’ve been supporting WWF's Freshwater work in the UK for the past five years. The chalk streams which WWF is working to protect and preserve are central to all of our lives - boths as individuals and businesses. Ensuring that we manage water better in this country, will both protect one of our most stunning landscapes, wildlife and continue to support both our domestic and business needs. The chalk stream inspired garden, is a great opportunity for the public to see why chalk streams are special and for us to share the success of the HSBC Climate Partnership."

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show takes place between July 5-10 2011.

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Editor's notes

Chalk streams and why they are threatened
As well as providing some beautiful scenery, the rivers that run through – and on the edge of – Britain’s towns and cities supply us with most of our freshwater, for drinking and washing, and take away our waste. Most of the water that is supplied to homes has originally been pumped from rivers (or underground aquifers that supply rivers), before being stored in reservoirs and processed at treatment plants.
All this demand for water is putting both the rivers and the wildlife they support at risk.
WWF is working to protect and preserve our rivers by helping thousands of UK homes, schools and businesses cut water use, saving millions of litres of water for our rivers.
Our Rivers on the Edge project, supported by HSBC, has focused first on three of the UK’s iconic ‘chalk streams’ – unique river systems found only in England and pockets of northern France. The Kennet, the Itchen and the Upper Lee also happen to be among the most heavily abstracted rivers in the UK.

Biography for garden designer, Fiona Stephenson
Fiona Stephenson trained at The Inchbald School of Design and since 1988 has run her own practise, Fiona Stephenson Designs Ltd (FSDL), during which time she has designed over 300 garden residential and commercial landscape schemes.

She has worked extensively in the UK, France, and Australia and designed and managed projects ranging from an award winning contemporary garden in the Kings Road, Chelsea, to creating a period setting for a lavish celebrity wedding in the garden of a 1750 Strawberry Hill Gothic house.

Her first RHS show in 2007, resulted in a Silver Gilt Flora Award for her garden “Growing Together” and she won a Gold Medal for her sustainable garden “Oak Tree: Lying in State” as well as a Silver Gilt Flora Award for “Treasures of The Mary Rose” for Whitgift School at the RHS Hampton Court Palace show in 2009.

Fiona is based in Surrey and a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers.

Partnership between WWF and HSBC
The HSBC Climate Partnership is a five year environmental programme between HSBC, The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (The Smithsonian) and WWF.

The objective of the programme is to reduce the impact of climate change on people, forests, freshwater and cities, and accelerate the adoption of low-carbon policies.

Together, the partners are:

 Carrying out original scientific research
 Developing demonstration projects and testing out new methodologies
 Creating working models, showing how the new ideas work in practice
 Providing clear solutions so that governments and jurisdictions can agree policy and enact legislation

Working in partnership to carry out scientific research and policy development work has already generated real and tangible outcomes. In the UK, as part of the HSBC Climate Partnership, WWF is working with government, communities and other partners to ensure UK rivers and their water supplies can cope.

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. We're working to create solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature can thrive. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, tacking climate change and changing the way we live.

In 2011, WWF's 50th anniversary year, we are celebrating what we have achieved so far together, and are positive about tackling the challenges of the future. Find out more about our work, past and present at www.wwf.org.uk

About The Hampton Court Flower Show
For tickets and to find out more about the show go to rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourtpalace

For further information, please contact:
Lou Garrett in the WWF press office on tel: 01483 412397 or Louise Hotchkiss on 01483 412353 or lhotchkiss@wwf.org.uk

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