Classic Travertine – warmly coloured and full of character – is a stone that people tend to fall in love with when enjoying a Mediterranean holiday. It offers two different looks, depending on whether it's Filled or Unfilled, and we were delighted at London Stone to supply the two versions to two gardens this year at RHS Hampton Court. Completely different in character, they handily showed how it can be used in both traditional and modern settings.
The cool, scented courtyard of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism: Garden of Paradise conjured the spirit of the East convincingly enough to win, not just Gold, but Best World Garden.
Designed by Nilufer Danis and built by show garden veterans Landform Consultants, it didn't stint on its use of Unfilled Classic Travertine paving. “It's the most common paving material in Turkey,” said Nilufer, “and looks more like the Mediterranean. And,” she added, indicating the hot and vibrant pinks supplied by Turkish roses and echoed in the cushions, “it goes very well with the colour scheme.”
Nilufer chose the Unfilled paving instead of the Filled because, combined with blue craftsman-made tiles and creamy marble from Turkey, she felt the surface imperfections were not only more authentic to the traditional setting, but blended well with the crafted elements of the garden.
While Nilufer's garden evoked a paradise garden of traditional Islamic design, Esra Parr created a modern retreat with the same classic elements – high walls for shade, perforated screens to allow the circulation of the breeze, and cooling water.
The zigzag rill was edged with bespoke Filled Classic Travertine coping stones, their smooth surface and rectangular shape complementing the narrow profile of the rill and the sleek, wood-effect porcelain tiling.
Just as it did in Nilufer's garden, the colour worked well with the overall scheme, which included clear blues, whites and vibrant pinks, but Esra had taken the traditional white walls and blue woodwork found around the Aegean and reversed them to give blue walls and white woodwork.
This was Esra's first Hampton Court Show garden and she had a word of caution for future first-timers. “This area used to be riverbed and the ground is like concrete. We brought a petrol auger to dig post holes and it just tickled the surface. It was the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life. We were scuppered – we couldn't use any normal gardening methods of construction.”
Not so scuppered, though, that she didn't attain Gold and (we can't resist adding) show the versatility of Classic Travertine paving.