Archive for the ‘garden shows’ Category

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

I have been wowed by the perfection of the naturalistic planting schemes presented to us by leading designers at Chelsea this year. This is a style of planting that I particularly like; complex, textural, dynamic herbaceous perennials bolstered by strong structural forms such as carved stone or wood and clipped living buttons, balls, cubes, rectangles, cones, spirals and clouds.

At this time of year it is the herbaceous perennials that are the stars of the show, be that in our gardens at home or at Chelsea. However these are just the final detail in the overall design, put in to soften the functional elements such as pools, paths, hedges and garden buildings. Get the layout right and then you can have fun with the planting.

During Chelsea week I scrutinised my own garden borders which are naturalistic in style but planted in drifts for easier maintenance, not surprisingly they left me with a sense of disappointment. My budget for the garden has not stretched to finished topiary shapes and unless I partake in daily tinkering there will be few days in the year when the beds will look like perfection. Scrutiny is good however, it helps me to see what needs to be done and if I am to be master of my borders that means regular input and time.

Unlike in the house, nothing stays the same for long in the garden, plants don’t stay where you put them, weeds sprout up, things flop, lawns get shaggy, flower spikes fade, rabbits and slugs nibble, etc… None of this occurs in a show garden, gardening at home is a process over time, enmeshing the gardener with the seasons where rewards are directly related to effort.

The magic is that most of us see beyond our efforts, our minds bending what is reality into a beautiful finished picture possibly like one of the gardens at Chelsea?

The Laurent-Perrier Garden 2014 Laurent-Perrier garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei

A carbon zero garden

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

A show garden is one of those totally unrealistic and exhausting projects that must be built in a week in all weathers only to be dismantled 3 days later! It is the sort of thing that I usually try to avoid however this time the show was very local to me, I used all recycled materials and the garden brought together design, horticulture, willow and willow weaving.   It was a garden commissioned by the Royal Bath and West  Society.

The garden was designed as an inspiring work space for willow weaving workshops as well showing off some well designed raised beds using locally reclaimed timber.  It was a carbon zero garden on account of its recycled materials, its locality, the fact that I grew the plants myself (these were mostly coppiced willows) and that everything would be reused again.

The garden was well received with a silver medal and it was a great show!

Art in the Garden – Hampshire

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

This is the second time I have exhibited at this summer long exhibition at Sir Harold Hillier Arboretum near Romsey.   Arriving with a car full of tools, willow flowers and willow, I found three heavy silver birch trunks lying on the ground close to where I was to have my installation.   I dug deep holes it the sticky clay soil and had help lifting the trunks into them.  I balanced on a ladder as I attached the flowers, making sure they were going to be strong enough to survive the vagaries of the next 5 months’ weather.

willow flowers

My garden at Hampton Court Flower Show

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

In March 2004 I was commissioned by Frederick Warne to design a garden for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show just three months later! This was to launch their new book Garden Fairies – The Lore and Language of Flowers. The garden was simply designed relying on wildflowers, roses and willow to provide a beautiful and relaxing world where fairies and children might play and where adults relax.

It was a garden to encourage wildlife as well as addressing issues of sustainability in terms of the recycled Yorkstone paving and home grown willow. It promoted local crafts and sustainably managed woodlands in its use of wattle fencing. It also included some edible fruiting plants and a log cairn to provide winter shelter to wildlife as well as habitat for fungi.

The garden aimed to harmonise a traditional natural theme with the contemporary, providing structure, purpose, relaxation and low maintenance.

flower fairy garden gala night willows & copper bowl