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Design an insect garden competition!

The Royal Entomological Society invites entries to transform its grounds to be a haven for insects, inspiring for education, and exciting for entomologists.

£1000.00 first prize

Up to four runners-up prizes of £250.00 each

The competition is open to all Fellows and Members of the Royal Entomological Society, with a closing date of 23.59 30 June 2019

Are you a frustrated entomologist or garden designer, longing to flex your muscles and design an imaginitive and inspiring insect garden?  Here is your chance.  The Royal Entomological Society owns grounds of approximately two and a half hectares just waiting to be transformed. And when we say ‘garden’, this can be interpreted loosely.  Any kind of environment that you can’t fit, or are not allowed to have, in your own garden could be incorporated within the design!

The RES headquarters and grounds are at The Mansion House, Chiswell Green Lane, St Albans, AL2 3NS (location: 51.727425, -0.372552) in southern England.  We took over management of the gardens in 2018, most of which used to be a rose garden. We intend to develop the grounds for the benefit of entomology. This could incorporate any combination (but not necessarily all) of the following goals: conserving insects, providing an educational resource for anyone from school children to garden designers, enthusing entomologists, and establishing a location where research could be carried out. Any other societal or entomological benefits could be included.

A few details

The whole or part of the area within the dashed orange line in the figure can be included in the scheme (scale and boundary are approximate only). A set of photos of the garden, in its current state, can be sent via We Transfer on request.

You can suggest replacing as much or little of the existing planting and garden structure as you like, within the constraint that establishment costs are as modest as possible and that, once established, maintenance costs should be low, compared to typical grounds/gardens management. Winning entries could be designs for the entire garden, or an overview of the whole combined with specific details of particular elements.

Currently, there are hard surfaces/paths, three ponds (two circular, one square), two small buildings, grassy paths and other areas, and herbacous beds and shrubberies between the paths. There are also a number of trees, mainly around the perimiter.  In terms of structure, the hard surfaces (see map) are in pretty good condition, the ponds may leak a bit, and there is vehicular access to the garden – more can be added if needed for the establishment work.  The planting is primarily of garden cultivars. The rose cultivars that were valuable in their own right have already been removed by rose enthusiasts, although many of the original roses remain. 

The process

In addition to the web pages, we will hold an OPEN DAY for interested parties wishing to view the garden on 22 May 2019, from 10:00 to 14:00, but we welcome entries from those who are unable to attend in person.  The closing date for the competition itself is 30 June 2019.  An assessment panel will then identify the winning entries, with the intention of announcing the winning entries on 31 August 2019.

Once we have identified the winning entries, we will invite those who have been successful to work with us to develop a ‘final plan’.  It is possible that the RES will decide to go with a single winning design for the grounds, although the garden refurbishment may well include elements from more than one of the competition designs, with additional input from others (see the rules). The aim is to start any works on the garden over the winter to spring of 2019-2020.

Good luck!


Designs may be from individuals or from groups.

The winner and runners-up agree to their designs being made available on the web, and published in Antenna magazine so as to inspire others to develop insect gardens.

Competitors agree that any elements of their designs could be incorporated within any ‘final’ design for the gardens.

Entries should be submitted as pdfs or word documents to   maximum length 3 pages, including any maps, designs, and accompanying text to explain the concept. Entries must arrive by 23.59 on 30 June 2019.

The decision of an assessment panel, appointed by the Council of the Royal Entomological Society, will be final. The garden refurbishment is likely to include elements from one or more of the competition designs, with additional input from the assessment panel and from the the Council of the Royal Entomological Society. Final decisions on the actual garden redesign will be made by the Royal Entomological Society.

Employees, members of the assessment panel, and Members of the Council of the Royal Entomological are not eligible to compete. 


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