A GARDEN inspired by a campaign to rid canal and rivers of plastic waste is up for a ‘people’s choice award’ at this week’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival.

The Canal and River Trust has teamed up with garden designer Tracy Foster to create a ‘Message in a Bottle’ garden - and it is hoping people will vote for it before 10am tomorrow (Friday) and help bring the award back to Yorkshire.

The garden, which highlights the trust’s ‘plastic challenge campaign’, has won the approval of comedian Bill Bailey and presenter Tony Robinson, and also paddle-boarder, Jo Moseley, from Embsay, who picks up plastic waste while paddling on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

Bill Bailey said: “Plastic is a huge issue and it’s only going to take a massive effort of willpower to make an impact. If everyone gets involved by doing a little bit when they are out on the towpath, we can make a significant difference, catching it at source before it floats out to sea.”

The ‘conceptual garden’ represents a bottle, containing a combination of plants symbolising a positive message floating towards a canal towpath or riverbank. Its message is simple – that we can all take action on our doorstep to help prevent plastic pollution.

The centrepiece, a giant bottle, measures 7m long and 1.8m tall, within which the show’s visitors will see ‘the gardener at work’; watering and tending to the plants. Created from iron, the bottle lies as if discarded on the banks of a canal or river.

Designer, Leeds based Tracy Foster, said: “The problem of plastic pollution is huge and complex, but that shouldn’t stop any of us from helping in whatever ways we can, whether that is campaigning for change, picking up a piece of litter or asking your supermarket to use less packaging.

Just refusing to buy any plastic that you don’t need such as bottled water, or things in sachets makes a massive difference when enough of us do it. There is hope, we can all help to fight the problem, we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to try.”

Tony Robinson added: “I’ve been a big supporter of the Canal and River Trust since it launched as a charity in 2012 and I’m particularly pleased to see them tackling our horrendous pollution issue head-on with their Plastics Challenge campaign. Their ‘Message in a Bottle’ garden highlights this important issue brilliantly, especially the way the vibrant flowers and incredible scent inside the bottle encapsulate hope and a positive vision for the future.”

Jo Moseley, the first woman to paddleboard the 162-mile long coast-to-coast canoe trail to help raise awareness of plastic pollution in our inland waterways will be joining Tracy at the festival tomorrow to see the garden.

She said: “When I started paddling on the canal and saw the plastic pollution, especially single use plastic bottles, the obvious next step was to litter pick from my paddleboard.

“I can’t change the world, but I can change the little bit around me - and that’s what I am trying to do for our waterways and help encourage others to do the same. I hope everyone will not only vote for this impressive garden but takeaway the message behind it and pledge to make a difference.”

The charity believes that visitors to its waterways can make a significant contribution to reduce plastics entering the country’s canals and rivers and ultimately making their way to the sea.

Paul Wilkinson, its senior ecologist, said: “We want this amazing show garden to inspire people to help transform their local community by taking small positive steps to reduce the plastics that pollute our canals and rivers. Your local waterways are only moments away, completely free to enjoy, and provide a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors experiencing the wellbeing benefits of being beside nature at the water’s edge.”

The garden will be open to view at the garden festival until Sunday (July 11), voting closes tomorrow (Friday) at 10am and winners will be announced later the same day.

To vote, go to: https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-hampton-court-palace-garden-festival/rhs-peoples-choice-award