By Ann Evans


Photos courtesy of Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust at Hampton Court 2



Dogs Trust – the UK’s largest dog welfare charity is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded a Gold Medal for its show garden, ‘A Dog’s Life’ at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.


The garden was designed especially with dogs in mind by acclaimed designer Paul Hervey-Brooks. It features a number of secret elements for dogs to sniff out and enjoy including an area for dogs to enjoy digging, trees that provided shelter and places to forage and search for toys and treats. There were intricate paths woven into planting, and tunnels hidden in herbaceous borders. The twists and turns within the garden were to symbolises the twists and turns of a dog’s journey to finding a new home forever.


The garden was inspired by the charity’s sensory space at its West London rehoming centre, which provides exciting areas to forage, exercise and explore and aims to enrich the lives of the dogs in the charity’s care whilst they await new homes. Dogs Trust created this one of a kind garden to promote its rehoming efforts and to encourage more people to support the charity’s work.

Dogs Trust at Hampton Court1

Amongst the many features of the garden, the diverse planting was to reflect the broad range of dogs you could meet at a Dogs Trust rehoming centre, and included perennial plants to reflect the charity’s promise never to put a healthy dog to sleep.


The plants are all non toxic to dogs, to keep them safe, and the two water features, included a large still rill representing the abandonment faced by stray dogs and another that provided running water for dogs to enjoy.


A snug pavilion located at the rear of the garden provided a place for dogs and humans to sit and survey the landscape, and the durable materials used reflect the ‘forever home’ sought by dogs being looked after by Dogs Trust.


70% of the garden including the pavilion, trees, sculptures and any unsold plants will find a new home at Dogs Trust Harefield so visitors and dogs can enjoy them.


Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO said: “We are thrilled to be at Hampton Court this year. Paul’s design works as a space that appeals to both human and canine senses and one that dogs and people can enjoy harmoniously. From secret sniffer tracks subtly weaved into rich herbaceous planting to the digging area and peaceful pavilion retreat, dogs of all shapes and sizes have been considered, which echoes the approach of every Dogs Trust rehoming centre.


“In the early 1900s, Dogs Trust, or the National Canine Defence League as it was known then, asked its members to organise a series of private shelters to care for stray dogs. These would often be set up in the members’ gardens, including one in Hampton itself, and became a refuge for dogs who would otherwise face an uncertain life on the streets. Fast forward to 2016 and Dogs Trust now runs 21 world-class rehoming centres catering for the needs of all dog breeds, so it seemed fitting to celebrate this with our own dog friendly garden at Hampton Court in our 125th year.


“We hope our garden encourages visitors to learn more about our rehoming work, whilst also inspiring people with subtle ways to make their own garden a welcoming space for dogs.”


Dogs Trust top tips for a dog friendly garden.

  • Keep your dog safe with secure garden borders. Judge the height based on your dog’s breed and temperament and consider the regulations affecting your property. Also regularly check for any gaps that your dog can wriggle through.


  • Features that offer different heights can give dogs vantage points to enjoy. Railways sleepers, steps and small benches can all be used to create versatility.


  • A variety of textures in your garden can provide extra sensory stimulation – this could be non-toxic sand, grass, wood chippings or gravel, all of which provide interesting places to hide dog toys and treats and for your dog to explore.


  • If your dog loves to dig to uncover things, create a fun area for your dog to show off their digging prowess and praise them for using this spot.


  • Shallow water features – as we’ve used in our show garden – make for another playful environment whilst also providing a cooling off spot on hot summer days.


  • Choose non-toxic plants in your garden.


  • A quiet retreat or spot in which to shelter and use at their leisure can help your dog to feel safe.


  • Have fun with your dog in the garden – exercise, train and play with your dog to keep them entertained. Interactive toys can keep your dog occupied but it is important to play with your dog daily.


  • Gardens can harbour unwanted friends such as slugs and ticks so ensure your dog’s flea, tick and worming treatments are up to date. Seek advice from your vet to discuss the best options for your dog.


  • Scoop that poop – prompt disposal of dog poop will keep your garden smelling of roses!



See the garden:


Discover more about the work of Dogs Trust and the dogs in their care: