RHS Chelsea Flower Show: St James’s Piccadilly dare to imagine the world to be different with Robert Myers

Tempus meets with six-time gold medalist Robert Myers to talk designing St James’s Church Piccadilly’s entrant into the RHS Chelsea Flower show

Robert Myers in St James's church (c) Matt GreenwellThe 2024 edition of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is almost upon us, which means participants are gearing up for one of the most anticipated horticultural shows in the calendar year. All eyes will be on landscape architect and six-time RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist Robert Myers to see what glorious floral magic that he brings to the showcase.

This year, Robert is teaming up with St James’s Church Piccadilly to design their Chelsea garden with the theme ‘imagine the world to be different’. The garden is sponsored by grant-making charity Project Giving Back and seeks to inspire visitors to cherish the earth and embrace transformative change. The show garden’s design will be the basis of a restored, accessible garden at St James’s in Piccadilly.Robert Myers and Rev Lucy Winkett in the St James's church garden (c) Matt GreenwellThe best part? The Chelsea garden will support efforts to raise £20 million for The Wren Project — a scheme to rejuvenate the historic Wren-designed church and particularly to restore its garden, in order to accommodate and amplify St James’s outreach and environmental work.

We spoke with Robert about the showcase, working with the church and how he imagines the world to be different.

Can you please talk a little about working with St James’s Piccadilly on this project?
I am thrilled to be designing a garden for St James’s Piccadilly at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024. St James’s social outreach and environmental work is incredibly powerful — around 400,000 people seek tranquillity and inspiration in the church, courtyard, and garden each year.RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Illustration by Michelle AndersonFor several years, I have enjoyed working with the team at St James’s on a transformational project to restore the grounds, providing a space for regeneration. As a landscape architect, I am consistently inspired by urban ‘pocket parks’ and reminded that the smallest of spaces can serve as vital refuges, providing a sense of peace, calm and connection with nature. 

What was the inspiration behind this project? What came to your mind when you saw the theme ‘imagine the world to be different’?
Ultimately, the gardens at SJP, both present and future, inspire the project. They reflect the visionaries, the people who imagine a different world and the transformative power of nature.

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. RHS Chelsea Flower ShowSt James’s is a thoughtful, inclusive, creative space open to all. Our garden pays homage to the revitalising influence of urban green spaces that can symbolise a message of hope and recovery.

As a six time gold medalist at the RHS Chelsea Flower show, what is the secret to winning?
Consistent innovation, attention to detail, impeccable execution, and a deep understanding of plants and design principles are all crucial factors in creating an award-winning garden. 

It’s essential to have a skilled and dedicated team working together to elevate the garden to its full potential. Maintaining a connection with St James’s Piccadilly and their charity work adds depth and purpose to the garden’s narrative, inspiring the audience with a captivating story of beauty, sustainability, and social impact.

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