Classic Celebrations At RHS Chelsea 2019 - read more about our involvement with this year's show, and learn a little more about the materials we have on display at this year's show.
You know a garden at RHS Chelsea is particularly special when, on the opening day, the BBC spend considerably more time interviewing the designer than expected. Schedules were thrown out left and right as the cameras roamed the Greenfingers Garden upstairs and down.
The Greenfingers Garden it it's luscious green glory, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
The Greenfingers Garden
Our charity partner Greenfingers installs gardens at children’s hospices to provide a welcome respite from the medical environment for patients and their families. Their garden is their first at RHS Chelsea and celebrates their twentieth year.
“For our charity - which is tiny - to be at the biggest flower show in the world,” says Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising and Communications, “where better for the public to engage with the garden? We can’t thank London Stone enough for helping to make it possible.”
Designer Kate Gould, whose company Kate Gould Gardens carried out the build, has created an arresting garden on two levels, with a lift connecting the two.
A garden for a modern-day hospice (elements of it will be relocated to Richard House Hospice, East London, after the show), it uses our most modern materials in co-ordinating colours. “I wanted surfaces that are relatively easy to care for,” explains Kate. “DesignClad, DesignBoard and Porcelain - they’re all tonally talking to each other.”
Florence Grey Porcelain paves the lower level, encircling the raised bed which is faced with glazed green bricks placed vertically. Our Bespoke Stone Centre used radial cutting for the path where it makes a hairpin bend around the bed and this echo of the design of the wall carries visitor around the curve and creates a lovely movement in the paving.
Our DesignClad Hydra Argen create sthe perfect backdrop to the rich green planting, The Greenfingers Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Kate has chosen a calm palette of green and white and the hard landscaping materials complement both the lush green and white planting which has been highlighted with touches of yellow, and the green and cream glazed bricks. On the upper level our DesignBoard Greenwich plays into this with the touch of green in its beige tones; it also makes a subtle appearance on the approach to the lift on the lower level where, used as cladding, it creates a calm backdrop to the planted bed.
Completing the trilogy of materials is DesignClad Hydra Argen, used on the water wall. “London Stone pre-cut it for us,” says Kate, “and it’s lovely and clean to work with.” Creamy with a silvery touch, it also creates a smooth backdrop that allows the waving hands of the water feature really stand out.
As you can imagine, there are always last-minute requirements for a Chelsea garden. “There are always bits that need re-cutting, or new bits to be cut as things change slightly,” says Kate, “but [Design Project Manager] Piotr was absolutely wonderful, really great.”
The garden wins a well-deserved Silver-Gilt.
Jo Thompson's beautiful, classical, and imposing The Wedgwood Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
The Wedgwood Garden
At the other end of the Main Avenue, you couldn’t find a garden with a more different feel and Piotr had a particular magic to weave here. The Wedgwood Garden, designed by Jo Thompson and built by Bespoke Outdoor Spaces, is another Silver-Gilt award-winner.
The design conjures a classical setting - the ancient region of central Italy that was home to the Etruscans and which gave its name to Etruria, the eighteenth-century Staffordshire village built by Josiah Wedgwood to house the pottery’s workers. Jura Beige Limestone paves the garden with small tiles that have been given an ancient finish with Novocolor, while the access to the garden is via shallow Jura Beige steps.
This is Jo’s second garden for Wedgewood and, in complete contrast to her design last year, Jo has gone rectilinear, recalling Josiah’s trips to Rome and Florence where he fell in love with classical architecture. A major feature is the large square walk-on that appears to float on the pool. This was designed by sculptor Ben Barrell and cut by Piotr.
Originally intended to be the plinth for the sculpture that sits behind the pool, it took on a starring role when Ben suggested pushing the sculpture back and making the plinth a sculpture in itself. “It took weeks of laser-cutting and polishing,” says Jo, “and when you stand on it, it’s as if water has eroded the stone.” The small fossils and shells that are such a feature of this limestone help bring this sense of ancient time to the design.
Hartley Botanic Trade Stand
Good enough for the Director General, Hartley Botanic's trade stand, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Over the way from the Wedgewood Garden, Hartley Botanic have cleverly arranged four greenhouses on a tricky triangular plot. Built by Stewart Landscape Construction and designed by Tina Fraser, the stand features our ever-popular Beige Sawn Sandstone.
The idea behind the design is to help people think creatively about how they can use their garden and spend more time in it. Each greenhouse shows a different use, from a Scandi-style dining-room to yoga retreat and painting studio. “Beige Sawn Sandstone makes a brilliant neutral backdrop,” says Tina.
“I went to London Stone’s North London Showroom,” she adds, “and I wanted something pale with an even colour to offset the darker colours of the greenhouses and planting. It’s gone down beautifully. It’s got an incredibly smooth texture and feels like silk.”
Hartley’s trade stand gained the maximum 5 stars – as usual - as well as The Director General's Trade Stand Award!
Kampo no Niwa
Evoking memories of northern Japan, Kampo no Niwa, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
In the Space to Grow gardens, the category that demonstrates how to make a small plot productive, the Kampo no Niwa garden, designed by Miki Sato and Kazuto Kashiwakura, uses the distinctive Golden Sawn Sandstone for the paving. With golden hues, there’s a warmth to the colouring, but also a lightness. Miki says “It feels snowy. Hokkaido is the most northern prefecture in Japan and there is snow for half of the year.” A rill run across the garden from a dry stone wall to an iron trough that empties into a pool and the water is clearly audible. “The sound of melting ice is joyful to us after the cold for so long,” she adds, “and the iron represents the minerals that are carried in the water from the mountains to the plants.”
The lovely markings in Golden Sawn Sandstone give it a very natural look with additional drama, while sandblasting and brushing adds softness to the texture. “It has a natural feel,” says Miki, “and it’s beautiful and very smooth.” Kazuto used a staggered paving pattern on the entrance to the garden. “It’s a small space,” explains Miki, “and he wanted to expand the space and make it feel larger, more open, so the garden is calm and peaceful.” The leafy planting lifted by the light paving and sound of water certainly does feel like an oasis to relax in, and the judges loved it too, giving it a Gold accolade.
Perennial Lifeline Garden
Helping horticulturists and landscaping alumni in times of need, The Perennial Lifeline Garden, RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019
Finally, and a first for us, as a garden that takes a prime spot actually in The Great Pavilion, is The Perennial Lifeline Garden, built by Conquest Creative Spaces, and marking 180 years since the charity’s beginnings. Perennial is the second of our charity partners, so we’re every bit as eager as we are with Greenfingers, to support the garden.
Designers Colm Joseph and Duncan Cargill have been inspired by the rose garden and colonnade at The Laskett Gardens, bequeathed to the charity by Roy Strong in 2015. Like Jo Thompson’s garden, it has a classical feel, and it’s interesting that they too have chosen Jura Limestone, this time in grey, to conjure that ambiance, albeit with a very modern interpretation.
Used as paving throughout, the Limestone has also been raised to the vertical as facing on the columns and in the stunning floating benches, the decoration of which echoes the geometrical openings in the metal screens from Stark and Greensmith. This swung our Bespoke Stone Service into action. Each bench had to have a shallow channel cut, which forms a continuous line across the different planes, into which metal was laid.
We’ll be covering the Perennial Lifeline Garden in more depth in next week’s blogpost, but in the meantime, congratulations to Colm and Duncan for their well-deserved Silver-Gilt.
Chelsea takes enormous effort, and “Never again” is a common cry from designers once they collapse in a heap of exhaustion after completing a garden. But they’re soon lured back; the show’s magic is irresistible and exactly what makes the effort worthwhile year after year. At London Stone we feel privileged to be a part of it.
So many congratulations to all the designers and contractors above who have, once again, created stunning gardens to such high standards.