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In 2023, The Royal Entomological Society Garden was designed for the Chelsea Flower Show to showcase how remarkable and valuable insects are to humankind and to the natural world, and to encourage visitors to consider their relationship with insects in their own gardens. Once relocated to its permanent site, the garden will will provide an inspiring place in which insects can be studied, researched, and observed in a beautiful natural environment with visible insect science taking place in the unique, insect eye inspired, outdoor laboratory.

The RES Garden demonstrates how to create range of habitats for insects within a garden and encourages gardeners to view their gardens first and foremost as habitats for a wide range of creatures. After all, our gardens and public green spaces are the easiest and most accessible places for getting up close and personal with a wealth of wildlife.

Designed by Tom Massey and supported by Project Giving Back, the garden aims to uncover the unseen and unheard creatures that live in the natural world.

Outdoor laboratory 

The garden’s outdoor laboratory, built into a hillside, encourages visitors down into the landscape, offering an ‘insect eye view’ and a space in which to study. A moveable projector screen links to microscopes in the lab, giving the opportunity to show enlarged insects at magnified scale, revealing their fascinating morphology and offering opportunities for education. The lab’s roof structure is inspired by a compound insect eye and will provide ‘modules’ permeable to insects, providing an accessible opportunity for on-site research, study and identification.

The iridescent laboratory dome for the #RESGarden

The garden features both standing and free-flowing water, dead wood and climate-resilient planting involving a mix of native and non-native plants that provide a wide range of food sources for pollinators and other beneficial insects. The front of the garden features drought resistant planting representing that typically found on brownfield sites. Some of these common plants may be considered weeds e.g. dandelions, clover, vetch and knapweed, but they play an important role for insects.

Behind the lab, naturalistic planting evokes meadows at the edge of native woodland, rich in insect life. Trees in the garden are also important for insects including hawthorn, silver birch, Scots pine and hazel.  

Plant list

Star plants for an insect-rich garden:

Common dandelion
(Taraxacum officinale)

Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Good nectar source for many
flying insects such as lacewings, ladybirds and a larval food source for moths.

Pygmy borage
(Borago pygmaea)

Pygmy borage (Borago pygmaea)

Attracts a variety of pollinators,
particularly bees. After a bee has visited a flower, it refills with nectar within two minutes.

Viper’s bugloss
(Echium vulgare)

Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare)

Supports many insects including 20 species of butterfly, bees and hoverflies. Several rare insects only live on this plant.

(Crategus monogyna)

Hawthorn (Crategus monogyna)

Supports over 300 species of insect, in particular flies, including hoverflies, and small beetles.

Common hazel
(Corylus avellana)

Common hazel (Corylus avellana)

Supports a wide range of insects and its leaves provide food for moth caterpillars.

Beth’s poppy
(Papaver dubium subsp. Lecoqii ‘Albiflorum’)

Beth’s poppy (Papaver dubium subsp. Lecoqii ‘Albiflorum’)

Provides food source for many insects including beetles and pollinating flies

What’s happening now? Follow the journey…

Download the garden leaflet with ‘Incredible Insects’ poster:

See also