In an unique exhibit at this May’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, we will be teaming up with the Eden Project to bring home to gardeners the critical importance of UK peatlands to our climate.
In an immersive Discovery Zone display, gardeners will be invited ‘to step into’ a restored Cumbrian bog - Bolton Fell Moss - to experience the secrets, sounds and beauty of these enormous bog gardens.
Alongside, a bountiful potager of vegetables and companion planting grown in our peat-free compost by gold-medal-winning Pennard Plants, will illustrate what gardeners can achieve in their own plot by switching to peat-free gardening.
Peatlands only occupy about 3% of the Earth’s land surface but are the largest terrestrial carbon store on the planet. UK peatlands cover around 12% of its land area and store 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon, more than twice that of the UK’s forests*, as well as being very important habitats for biodiversity.
We are not only a major manufacturer of peat-free compost but also a leading restorer of damaged peatlands, including the restored site at Bolton Fell which is now a National Nature Reserve. Our co-founder Professor Jane Barker said: “Up until now, the scientific understanding underpinning individual gardeners’ responsibility to climate change gardening has not been well communicated. We want to demonstrate how you can easily make a difference in your own garden by ditching the use of peat and switching to peat-free compost.
“The importance of peat and peatlands to our climate and the planet have also not been made clear or accessible for our gardeners, whilst trees have taken centre stage and are much easier to relate to. However, peat is hugely significant to our climate’s future.”
The timeline of a bog will be illustrated in the RHS Chelsea exhibit to show the thousands of years peat represents. Peat grows at only 1mm per year and this will be contrasted to the bags of peat compost it would yield and the short season of growth that peat might give gardeners.
Whilst the Government has set targets for peatland restoration and is currently consulting on a peat ‘ban’ in amateur gardening there remains a significant resistance to switching to peat-free and it is predicted even more peat could be used in the future. Of the 5.44 million cubic metres of growing media used in 2020, 79% was used by amateur gardeners. Two-thirds of peat sold in the UK is from Europe, meaning we are effectively exporting our carbon footprint. Voluntary targets set for peat sellers have had little impact and the new target of ending peat sales by 2024 is being questioned for being too slow and not enough.
This is our latest initiative with the Eden Project to promote the sustainability benefits of peat-free gardening. Our Wool Compost is endorsed by the world-renowned environmental charity and social enterprise, and we have plans to work together on other future initiatives.