Visit Hampton Court today and, no doubt, there’s barely a ruffle on the surface. Things were very different at the beginning of the month when gardens of all shapes and sizes looked fully established in the greensward.
Here at London Stone we supplied five very different gardens at Hampton Court Flower Show and are extremely proud to have been involved in such high-quality creations. Not only did three of the gardens win Gold, but two were awarded Best in their category.
So, congratulations first of all to Andrew Fisher-Tomlin and Dan Bowyer for their Bowel Disease UK Garden for Crohn’s Disease. Despite having to dodge baby owls blown out of the trees by the wind in the run-up to the opening, they garnered Best Summer Garden with a design lush with hardy exotics, both illustrating aspects of Crohn’s Disease and creating an interesting, de-stressing retreat for a young person who suffers from it.
The organic shapes of the paving slabs were chosen because Andrew and Dan wanted to make a link to the gardens they create abroad. “A third of our work is overseas,” said Andrew, “and we’re particularly known for sinuous, relaxed design. People haven’t really seen us doing that here. The shapes really suit the exotic, jungly planting.”
Andrew particularly liked the flexibility that sintered stone offered. “It allows you to do big slabs that interlink. If you want to do something a bit more fluid, then this is a fab product.” Originally butted up, the laying pattern was tweaked. “We gave them a 25mm gap, which is quite big, and what that’s done is opened it up and emphasised the colour and shape.”
Another advantage was the space the sintered stone saved in transport. “The whole path arrived on two palettes that high—” he waved somewhere towards his knees “—because the stone is only 12mm thick.”
Caption: Picture: Helen Gazeley.
The sintered stone was also one of the least demanding elements, making it easy to insert the steel fire pit, which was dropped onto a rebate precisely cut by our CNC machine. “The garden took four days to plant,” said Andrew, “but the paving was down in three hours.”
Andrew tells us that it certainly caused a stir. Landscapers visiting the garden took a keen interest. “They’re amazed at the product,” added Andrew. “They can’t make out what it is.”
Also winning Best Garden in their category were Tom Massey and John Ward with their conceptual UNHCR Border Control Garden. In the “war zone” adjacent to the razor wire-topped fence was a rough, ready feel of hastily laid materials. “The timber is rough oak, not planed,” said Tom. “We wanted it to feel quite military.”
Moving deeper into the protected centre of the garden, you crossed from the timber to honed Darleymoor Buff Yorkstone. Its warm, even colouring and smooth, rich texture couldn’t have been more different. “It’s an absolute contrast,” said Tom. “We wanted to create something that looked perfect and we really needed high-quality stone, custom cut. It’s got such a lovely finish; it really fits with the wildlife meadows and pavilion.”
With the circular pavilion at the centre, it was a natural choice to have the paving radially cut, creating a lovely line around the pavilion.
Caption: Picture: Helen Gazeley.
And in the centre, the message, engraved on our CNC machine, sums up the UNHCR’s aims.
Also inspired by Darleymoor Buff Yorkstone was Rae Wilkinson, who used it for the quoin stones that capped the curved brick walls, demanding some nifty programming and cutting from our CNC operators to accommodate the tapered shape.
The quoins brought a fine finishing touch to her design for Abbeyfield Society A Breath of Fresh Air, created as a safe, relaxing space for people with dementia. “It’s a lovely stone,” said Rae, “really lovely quality in a mix of grey and buff tones.”
Also in the garden, surrounding the water feature were our Smooth River Pebbles, large, rounded and smooth, which made a lovely contrast with the compacted, rough, brushed texture of the Breedon gravel.
Caption: The Witan Investment Trust Global Growth Garden. Picture: Helen Gazeley.
The Witan Investment Trust Global Growth Garden, designed by Jane Bailey and inspired by the company’s vegetable garden project at RHS Hyde Hall that opens next spring, showcases edible plants from around the world which can be grown in the UK.
Looking down from the burgeoning beds, you saw a neat edging of Antique Cream Sandstone setts. Ed Burnham of Burnham Landscaping said, “The walkway is a public space, so we’ve got good quality paving and the oak of the raised beds to frame the pathway.” The path has no straight edges, with curves that tighten towards the centre of the garden. The setts were all cut to fit on site. What did it entail? “Time and patience,” sighed Ed.
Also featuring the setts were the interesting little areas of “hard standing” incorporated into the beds, which offered a practical place to stand pots or move between the planting.
Caption: The Squire’s Garden. Picture: Helen Gazeley
Finally, winning Gold, Catherine MacDonald designed Squire’s Garden, the third to celebrate the company’s 80th anniversary and the third garden this year to feature Darleymoor Buff Yorkstone. Actually, the Yorkstone really took a starring role, not only making up the paving but also the mowing strips, stepping stones (with pencil round edges), step treads, risers and coping.
Caption: Mint Sandstone Cladding blends with the Darleymoor Buff Yorkstone.
Alongside the Yorkstone, Catherine used Mint Sandstone wall cladding, which blended well with the colouring and echoed the rectangular shapes used throughout.
“They’re stacked monoliths,” she said of paving stones in the path, widely spaced to outline the shape, “and emphasise the strong line through the garden.”
For her garden at RHS Chelsea this year she chose Grey Yorkstone. “The buff is slightly warmer,” she said. “It works well tonally with the strong Squire’s colours of burgundy red and gold.”
And that’s it for another year. What with RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court, the beginning months of the year are always a concerted effort of concentration, planning, scheduling and execution. Exhausting, but very rewarding.
It won’t be very long before we start again for next year. We can’t wait!