Chris Beard­shaw

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Chelsea Flower Show -

“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.”

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