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The Chelsea Flower Show
Award-winning landscape designer Andy Sturgeon drew inspiration from one of Kent’s most famous gardens for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
The beautiful Arts and Crafts garden created at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent by the author Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold has long been one of Andy’s favourites.
So, while he’s best known for his striking modern designs, Andy turned to Sissinghurst and Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire when commissioned to create a feature garden by Chelsea Flower Show sponsor M&G Investments.
“I wanted the M&G Garden to have a quintessential English aesthetic, so I’ve created what I’m calling a ‘New English’ garden a contemporary take on the traditional Arts and Crafts ideals that celebrates nature and craftsmanship,” said Andy.
“The garden is inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement, of which there remain some magnificent examples in all regions of the country.”
A leading garden designer, author and broadcaster – Andy has presented the BBC’s coverage of the show for the last five years – he has won five Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medals, plus Best in Show at Chelsea. In his pre-show blog he described the creative process that led to this year’s design.
“It dawned on me that even if I’m designing a contemporary space, much of the approach and the ethos is based entirely on Arts and Crafts principles, whether it be the use of local and traditional skills, the formal geometry of the layout with exuberant planting or simply the use of natural materials,” he explained. The M&G Garden will have a strong asymmetric quality, characteristic of the Arts and Crafts style – a series of formal, linear paths and terraces will combine with a mirrored water channel to create a succession of garden rooms delineated by three striking monolithic walls and a ‘floating’ oak bench, framed within a bold yew hedge. The garden will feature a palette of natural materials including aged copper, English oak and Purbeck stone.
The dramatic focal point will be the crafted copper ring ‘energy wave’ sculpture. At opposite ends, Cercidiphyllum trees (Candyfloss trees) will provide height and shade and anchor the garden to the site.
“I am hoping it will inspire amateur gardeners in their own homes,” said Andy.
“Show gardens at Chelsea can often seem the remit of only the most skilled designers, but there are key elements that make a well-designed garden, that anyone can adopt.”
For full details on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which runs from May 22-26, visit www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea.