Excitement is mounting in the offices here. Our masons have done their work and our stone has been shipped to RHS Chelsea and laid in situ at Matt Keightley's Sentebale – Hope in Vulnerability, his garden celebrating Lesotho's Mamohato Children's Centre.
Of course, there's been loads in the Press, because Sentebale is the charity founded by Prince Harry and Lesotho's Prince Seeiso to provide healthcare and education to vulnerable children in Lesotho, where more than 1 in 3 children are orphaned and more than 37,000 children under 14 live with HIV. Prince Charles was rumoured to be popping in to check up on progress during the build, and photographers are, no doubt, girded to do battle for the best camera angles on Press Day.
Sentebale offers several Mamohato residential camps each year and the main focus of the garden is a representation of a camp, with lots of colours and textures to celebrate its energy. Matt took inspiration, not only from the Centre, but Lesotho itself. Rough landscape, rocks and dramatic waterfall pay tribute to Lesotho's wilderness and mountainous areas. Construction features traditional techniques, as well as taking inspiration from traditional building materials. Matt didn't let the design go to his head, though. This is an evocation, rather than a slavish representation as, Matt told one interviewer, visitors to Chelsea don't want to build an African garden but want to see plants they can use here.
Matt burst to eminence last year with his first RHS Chelsea garden, supporting the military charity Help for Heroes. With his twelve years' experience in landscaping and a BA (Hons) in landscape design, it was surely a natural progression for him to take the next step from contemporary urban gardens in Kensington and Chelsea and larger gardens in the Home Counties to a show garden. He won Silver-Gilt and People's Choice for the design pictured below.
Last year he created a shadowy, cool straight path down the middle of his garden with airy planting on either side. This year he's put a cork oak in the foreground, striking for its bark, but also, as is always recommended for limited gardens, allowing a large tree to lend scale to a small space.
For our part here at London Stone, there was a lot of bespoke stone work to produce and in the picture below you can see the path leading to the camp's door - very large, irregular shaped pieces to enhance the rustic feel.
Anticipation in the Press is growing and this garden is obviously going to be a major feature when the gardens are revealed. But as you enjoy it, don't forget to look down and admire the natural stone paving - it'll knock your socks off. We’ll show you exactly what we did very soon…