Carpentry students create bug hotel for RHS Cancer-Awareness Garden

For the second consecutive year, students at Leeds College of Building are using their skills to help create a poignant RHS show garden.

The Level 1 Diploma Carpentry & Joinery students have crafted two 5ft triangular wooden bug hotels. The structures will feature at the main entrance of a garden going on display at RHS Tatton Flower Show 2024, which is due to take place from 17–21 July.

Led by garden designer Carolyn Hardern and landscape construction manager Jon Jarvis, the project will raise awareness about melanoma skin cancer in the construction industry. The ‘1804 Garden’ is named after the date melanoma was first referred to in the medical world.


Research shows that working outdoors in the sun leads to around five melanoma cases and one death per week in the UK. Last year, construction workers accounted for 44% of occupational skin cancer diagnoses and 42% of occupational skin cancer deaths each year – despite construction workers making up only 8% of the workforce.

Carolyn said: “We hope to build on the success of our Tatton entry last year with an even bigger and better plot. 2024 is extra special in terms of various anniversaries: the RHS formed 200 years ago, Tatton Show 25 years, Southport 100 years, and it'll be 20 years since I did my first show garden at Tatton!”


At just over 300m2, the garden will be the largest at the Tatton Flower Show this year and promote the charities Band of Builders and Melanoma UK. The garden is shaped like an equilateral triangle, inspired by the yellow and black radiation symbol often found in hospital cancer centres.

The Leeds College of Building students recycled waste timber from previous projects to make the bug hotels. Wood was glued and planed to required sizes and drilled, screwed, glued and dowel jointed together. They finished off the hotels by adding a wooden beetle shape and each will be filled with natural materials collected by pupils at Wrenbury County and Bickerton primary schools in Cheshire.

Rob Smith, Head of Partnerships & Skills at Leeds College of Building, said, “Carolyn and Jon first approached the College given our status as the only specialist general further education construction college in the UK. We were happy to lend a hand last year, given the mental-health-in-construction theme, and we’re delighted to be involved again in 2024."


The 1804 Garden will go on to feature on a smaller scale at the Southport Flower Show in August before being donated to a worthy, permanent local home. The project will cost in the region of £30k and donations towards the build and garden relocation are now being asked via the project’s Just Giving page.

To find out more, visit the 1804 Garden Instagram page or see the Leeds College of Building website for carpentry and joinery course information.

Leeds College of Building
South Bank Campus off, Cudbear Street
Crown Point Road, Leeds
LS10 1EF
0113 222 6000