Inspiration can take designers in so many directions when answering a brief, which was so evident when I visited The RHS Chelsea Flower Show recently.
Arriving at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the home of the equally inspirational Chelsea pensioners, I was most definitely in London, yet within a half-hour stroll, I’d had a lovely welcome in Yorkshire, been to a quarry in Malta, popped into Covent Garden, enjoyed a trip to the Silk Road in China, even been transported into the vast and ecologically vital boreal forests and freshwater lakes of Canada, and yet still had time for a micro moment in Japan!
The art of telling a story
Walking around these stunning gardens and appreciating the sheer brilliance of the design, the attention to detail and the understanding of form, colour and harmony you start to realise that these are just the beginning of what the gardens deliver as a whole. When you delve deeper, you begin to experience all manner of emotions, guided deliberately by the designers. These gardens tell stories of neglect, animal cruelty, of the huge struggles that can be experienced with depression, even provoking awareness of our ever more precious global landscapes. You can’t help but be moved. Like a rollercoaster, just a few short steps and you are taken from feelings of compassion and reflection to that of wonder and joy, such is the power of great design.
Gardens: Left: ‘City Living’ by Kate Gould. Bottom right: Beneath a Mexican Sky by Manoj Malde.
Showcasing brilliant design
Chelsea ultimately is a showcase of brilliant design and horticultural genius, with all designers and exhibitors trying to achieve the ultimate accolade of a Chelsea Gold. None was more deserving in my opinion than the Bank of Canada Garden designed by Charlotte Harris.
Royal Bank of Canada Garden by Charlotte Harris.
Going the extra 5,000 miles
Charlotte chose a Canadian habitat as the inspiration for the garden, as 2017 also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. Her journey began with a vital research trip, culminating in a canoe paddle to reach the inspirationally vast and ecologically vital Boreal forests and freshwater lakes of Canada so she could learn how this ecosystem works, how it knits together people, plants, animals, fungi and water.
It’s hard to showcase such a vast and ecologically important area in one tiny show garden but the ecosystem informs the design: the detail of the forest floor, the gnarled beauty of the ‘Jack Pines’ and the rich textures of Ferns, Aquilegia and Amsonia combine to create a delicate woodland planting scheme.
A granite seating area, the loggia and cube seats built from burnt larch, represent the natural regeneration within the ecosystem; the crystal-clear stream water matches the purity and quality of the glacial waters of the Canadian landscape. All of the natural details observed and reproduced are designed to immerse you into this stunningly beautiful landscaped garden.
We love Charlotte’s Gold medal-winning design, and especially the lengths she has gone to in delivering the best solution for her brief, something that, at LAW Creative, we do every day.
If we’ve whetted your appetite for all things horticultural check out the BRAND NEW innovative RHS Chatsworth 7th-11th June 2017 https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chatsworth-flower-show