Dan Bowyer MSGD and Andrew Fisher-Tomlin FSGD
Top tips on funding a show garden design without the cash
Dan Bowyer MSGD and Andrew Fisher-Tomlin FSGD created a Gold-medal-winning garden for Bowel Disease UK at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, largely through sponsorship-in-kind. Here they offer advice on achieving results when you don’t have a paying sponsor footing the bill.
Aim to raise money, not spend money. Bowel Disease UK is a small charity, aiming to raise £150,000 for essential research – it doesn’t have money for a show garden. Andrew has known the charity’s founder for 10 years and we’ve supported it as a sponsor.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We asked companies if they would be interested in getting involved, sponsoring individual elements of the garden. We were amazed how many of them knew someone with Crohn’s.
Speak to people that you already have relationships with. We collaborated with Oxford Planters on a furniture range this year, so they supported us on this project.
Dan and Andrew\'s show garden.
The garden can showcase new products. London Stone thought the garden could be a good showcase for a new product that isn’t available on the mass market – it showed off what they can do. Likewise, Exterior Decking burnt the timber screens using the Shou Sugi Ban method – it’s a very new technique.
Some suppliers may be willing to supply products or services at cost. Gillings Studio & Dymott Designs provided the powder-coated steel planters and firepit this way.
Be prepared to pay for plants and specialist skills. We always insist on paying our show contractors, in this case Smartscape Cardiff.
Make use of volunteers. Volunteers helped us to build the garden, many from the London College of Garden Design, where Andrew is a director. Crohn’s sufferers also gave their time. The story of Crohn’s sufferer Scott Yates provided a narrative for the garden. Scott volunteered for the build and show, and was essential to the success of the garden.
Lack of cash is not a barrier to a great garden. Overall, we paid out between £5,000 and £7,000. If we had paid for everything, the garden would have cost £30,000-£40,000.