Home Horticultural shows RHS Chelsea: Space to Grow Gardens 2018

RHS Chelsea: Space to Grow Gardens 2018

The Pearlfisher Garden. Picture; RHS MIC
The Pearlfisher Garden. Picture; RHS MIC

Cutting-edge concept gardens

We all know about the show gardens on Main Avenue but what exactly is a Space to Grow garden?

They’re cutting-edge plots in a new site on Royal Hospital Way. The brief is to ‘inspire visitors to transform a compact, urban or unusual outdoor space by designing a garden’ using new trends, materials or technology. Eight designers have come up with gardens:

The Pearlfisher Garden

Sponsor: Pearlfisher. Designer: John Warland. Contractor: The Garden Builders

Celebrating the largest garden in the world – underneath our oceans. It aims to highlight its beauty while acting as a call to action to create sustainable packaging and products. Thirty-two per cent of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually flows into our oceans.

The walling is made of 1000 recycled water bottles – representing the amount of plastic entering the ocean every five seconds. The design consists of a series of below water level aquatic tanks, hosting a Jason deCaires Taylor coral sculpture, ocean plants, and live fish, surrounding the central feature of a 3D printed recycled Pearl Diver or Japanese Ama sculpture.

Planting is dominated by cacti and succulents imitating underwater coral. Suspended tillandsias add an algae effect and movement.

The New West End Garden. Picture; RHS MIC
The New West End Garden. Picture; RHS MIC

New West End Garden

Sponsor: Sir Simon Milton Foundation supported by New West End Company. Designer: Kate Gould. Contractor: Kate Gould Gardens

A modern interpretation of a communal London square garden with environmentally positive technology. Lightweight trees providing shelter and privacy. Colourful low-level planting with a sunken space creates a relaxing centre.

A classical water feature helps mask city noise. Paving has integral energy harvesting and clean air is achieved through a pergola. A sculpture can be seen from different angles.

Plants include Munstead Wood roses (Ausbernard), Salvia nemorosa Caradonna, Hosta Empress Wu, Viburnum plicatum, Sarcococca confusa, with vertical green walls planted with ferns.

The Silent Pool Gin Garden. Picture; RHS MIC
The Silent Pool Gin Garden. Picture; RHS MIC

The Silent Pool Gin Garden

Sponsor: Silent Pool Distillers. Designer: David Neale. Contractor: Neale Richards Garden Design

Intended for a professional city couple who need a space to unwind. Key features include native multi-stemmed Crataegus monogyna, a contemporary water feature with an infinity edge, a copper sculpture and laser-cut panels set into the boundaries.

The idea came from the designer’s Dorset holidays and its natural stone, as well as walks at nature reserves. Predominantly UK-sourced materials and native trees have been used, including 10 tonnes of Jurassic Purbeck stone, full of grey shell fossils.

Drifts of planting provide a relaxing, atmospheric feel, with grasses giving gentle movement, punctuated by Angelica in a blue, white and green palette.


The Seedlip Garden. Picture; RHS MIC
The Seedlip Garden. Picture; RHS MIC

The Seedlip Garden

Sponsor: Seedlip. Designer: Dr Catherine MacDonald. Contractor: Landform

A conceptual installation celebrating the pea and three men (Mendel, Lamborn and Branson) responsible for pioneering its cultural, culinary and scientific significance. A garden path, formed of circular elements representing the pea, leads to the elevated ‘Peavilion’. Seedlip’s Ben Branson is a grower from Lincolnshire, where pea pods are distilled into a non-alcoholic spirit.

The main plant is the garden pea, Pisum sativum, and many of its unusual and edible relatives, including world exclusive releases of two new varieties bred by Dr Calvin Lamborn. The palette of red, purple and yellow reflects the pods of Dr Lamborn’s sugar snap and snow peas.

Urban Flow in partnership with Thames Water. Picture; RHS MIC
Urban Flow in partnership with Thames Water. Picture; RHS MIC

Urban Flow – in partnership with Thames Water

Designer: Tony Woods. Contractor: Garden Club

The garden showcases how bold design features, colourful and abundant planting, and a practical and versatile outdoor living space can be created in a small urban plot. Water conservation and environmentally considerate landscaping is centre stage, with planting used to deflect and process pollution and excess rainfall, as well as to attract wildlife.

Planting has been selected for biodiversity and to encourage gardeners to choose plants for leaves. Rain garden planting pockets are created using varying moisture and shade-tolerant plants, with edible living walls. Materials vary from traditional hand-crafted clay bricks to cutting-edge porcelain cladding.

Planting has dark foliage and leaf shapes creating texture and movement, including Rosa glauca, Baptisia australis, Cornus canadensis Lamium orvala and Angelica sylvestris Vicar’s Mead.

The Myeloma UK Garden. Picture; RHS MIC
The Myeloma UK Garden. Picture; RHS MIC

The Myeloma UK Garden

Sponsor: Myeloma UK. Designer: John Everiss and Francesca Murrell. Contractor: Peter Gregory Landscapes

Inspired by Peter King, a Myeloma UK supporter whose wife Gill and brother Graham passed away with the blood cancer. The garden centres on a giant sculpture modelled on Peter and Gill’s daughter Gemma, which represents the role of the carer. The sculpture appears to be blowing seeds and plants onto fertile soil, to represent new treatment and a sign of hope and growth.

Boulders are used to represent plasma cells, from which the cancer arises, and bog oaks have been placed as physical representations of barriers in care and treatment.

Planting is spread into three areas: woodland, meadow and cracks and crevices. Plants include Taxus balls, Prunus and Malus, Anthriscus sylvestris, Matteuccia struthiopteris and Melica nutans.

The CHERUB HIV Garden A Life Without Walls. Picture; RHS MIC
The CHERUB HIV Garden A Life Without Walls. Picture; RHS MIC

The CHERUB HIV Garden: A Life Without Walls

Sponsor: CHERUB. Designer: Naomi Ferrett-Cohen. Contractor: Ed Burnham

The aim of the garden is to increase awareness of HIV and how CHERUB (Collaborative HIV Eradication of Reservoirs UK BRC) are working to find a cure. There are 37 million people living with HIV, with 2 million people infected every year.

In the garden, each wall is difficult to pass and is inscribed with words that young people growing up with HIV have written. The end of the journey is an open seating area, symbolising a society where these young people are accepted without prejudice. The timing coincides with the results of the ‘RIVER’ trial, the first formal randomised trial exploring a possible cure for HIV infection.

The first area of planting around the pod is minimal and regimented. Continuing through the garden, the planting becomes much warmer and brighter and less formal.


Skin Deep. Picture; RHS MIC
Skin Deep. Picture; RHS MIC

Skin Deep

Sponsor: The Skin Deep Group. Designer: Robert Barker. Contractor: Terraforma Landscapes

A conceptual garden created for a skin care company, it centres around a sculpture consisting of nearly 200 concrete blocks representing different human faces and skin conditions. The skin’s outer layer is a window into our genetic past, echoed in the textural planting scheme. Pools are symbolic of the necessity of water to maintain healthy skin. Concrete has been chosen because it can be adapted to replicate a variety of skin conditions.

Plants have been chosen for their skin-like qualities; Boehmeria platanifolia for its wrinkled leaf and Pulmonaria Sissinghurst White for its spotty leaves. The colour scheme of the flowers is red.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.


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