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IBC Pocket Forest Show Garden

Show Garden - 'The IBC Pocket Forest'
The Container Gardens Category
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Not a judged category


No.30 Design Studio would like to thank everyone who helped bring 'The IBC Pocket Forest' to life, with special thanks to:

Mentor: Paul Hervey-Brooks
Hard Landscaping: Big Fish Landscapes Ltd
Sponsors: Breedon Group
Practicality Brown Ltd


Wetland Plants


Crown Decorating Centre Hereford

Extreme Lounging


Deepdale Trees

Hortus Loci

Bernhards Nurseries

Wetland Plants

A full plant list can be found here

Small spaces do not mean you have to have small plants or containers... Think big!

Urban town and cityscapes have trees planted in containers throughout their streets and pedestrianised areas; and trees can happily grow in containers if looked after correctly.

Inspired by the balconies of Milan’s Bosco Verticale and tiny urban forests, utilising the Miyawaki method of creating diverse multi-layered forest, this garden’s aim is to create an urban 'pocket forest' and haven for wildlife, repurposing Intermediate Bulk Containers into a sanctuary to sit and be immersed in nature.

The customised IBC containers will be planted in a multi-layered scheme with trees, mid storey shrubs and underplanting, and will have a naturalistic feel. By using native and non-native varieties, appropriate to UK gardens, a wildlife-friendly habitat will be created, adding to urban wildlife corridors. The density of the trees, shrubs and hedging will provide shelter and nesting opportunities for birds. The spring blossom of the Crataegus monogyna, Malus Evereste and Sorbus aucuparia offer a great nectar source for insects and pollinators; and the berries and fruit offer a food source for birds and small mammals. The wildlife pond will also provide drinking water for birds, insects and small mammals.

The IBC containers are standardised shipping containers of euro pallet size (L1.2m x W1m x H1m) and typically hold 1000 litres or 1000kg. They are stackable, reusable and used for the transportation of liquids, semi-solid pastes and powders, across a wide range of industries, including petrochemical, pharmaceutical and food and drink production.

They are sold off cheaply at the end of their leasing lifecycle, and like pallets and shipping containers they are readily available, modular, and easily customisable. This is a cost-effective way of including large-format planters in a scheme specifying sizeable plants, being far cheaper than buying comparable planters of the same size.

The creative use of upcycling and repurposing the IBC containers, once they have come to the end of their primary use, follows on from the trend of upcycling pallets and shipping containers - other key components to our global trading. 

Miyawaki Method

Developed by Akira Miyawaki, a botanist and plant ecologist from Japan who is an expert in restoring deforested and degraded soils into dense, rich pioneer forests, in 20 or 30 years, when in nature it would take over 200 years.

The method requires:


  • Native or locally collected seeds to be germinated in a nursery.

  • Preparation of the ground if degraded with 3-4kg p/m2 of organic matter or mulch to protect as would natural humus.

  • Unusually dense plantation of two-year-old seedings with mature roots system, with the density aiming to stimulate competition between species.

  • Planting distributed in randomised way, not in rows or staggered.


His methodology also formed the basis for the concept of ‘Tiny Forests’ reintroducing dense rich woodland to small urban spaces.

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