“This is probably the most challenging of all of the Chelsea gardens we’ve done in terms of conveying the narrative of the organisation allied to the sponsor – in this case, the NSPCC and the work it does with Childline. What interested me, after talking to various people involved in Childline, was the transformative process from the point when a child makes initial contact to when that child has become confident and self-assured. I came up with the idea of a passage, with staged points along the way that allow you to realise that progress is being made. A series of walls that appear to block your way mark these stages. If you choose to go round them, the journey continues until you reach the elevated cedarwood pavilion, which offers an element of security and comfort. The opaque sliding doors allow you to create a completely closed space.
“The woodland planting at the entrance path is deliberately quite congested, to suggest a child’s initial confused state, and its floral tones are muted. A multi-stemmed Betula nigra, glimpsed beyond the 1.5m-high wall, draws you into the garden. As you move towards the pool at the back, the plants are more massed together, and make a stronger and bolder effect. I wanted to play around with less well-known woodland perennials, such as the simple and elegant Paeonia obovata and Cortusa matthioli. I also want to include some that are often overlooked, such as Mertensia virginica, with its fabulous sky-blue flowers, Dodecatheon meadia and various podophyllums.”