If you have visited our website homepage recently, you might have noticed some new banners. One of them is the lovely Living Landscapes HUG (Healing Urban Garden) designed by Rae Wilkinson and built by Living Landscapes, which won a well-deserved Silver Gilt at Hampton Court Flower Show last month. It also stands alone of all the gardens we supplied at the show in featuring Kota Blue Limestone.
Rae designed the garden around a palette of blue, with the intention to create a soothing space that would suit a client such as a Wellness Centre in an urban setting. “We all appreciate spaces that are beautiful,” she said, “and the idea that green space in an urban setting can have a positive effect is growing.”
Kota Blue Limestone was the ideal match for the palette. It also has a riven surface that is naturally flat which, with its very even colouring and texture, makes it ideal for a modern design. Rae plumped for bespoke plank paving slabs. “I like the way you can stagger them through another surface and they drift off into the planting at the side.” Spilling over onto the hard landscaping were perennials and grasses that created a haze of blues and mauves – including Perovskia 'Blue Spire', Euphorbia amygdaloidies 'Purpurea', Nepeta 'Walkers Low' and Eryngium 'Picos Blue' – while silvery leaves from plants such as Artemesia 'Powis Castle' and Stachys 'Silver Carpet' provided highlights.
Also providing highlights were a curved bleached oak bench by sculptor Alun Heslop and the upright pillars in the wall, which Rae chose because, she said, “I wanted a wall that wasn't solid.”
The garden is an interesting yin and yang of curves and straight lines. Curves provided by the back wall, the wide path and the bench itself are counterbalanced by the straight lines which are incorporated into the wall, are a feature of the bench, and created by the plank paving. Even the massed planting, which includes circles of plants filling the round planters, is contrasted with neat, straight rows of thyme planted at intervals between the paving.
Rae is optimistic that we'll be seeing far more quality urban planting in future. “People are valuing green space more in cities. And more space is being allocated by companies, because they recognise that how space looks can affect how people unconsciously perceive them when they arrive at their offices.”