Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2011

The New Wild Garden
Design: Nigel Dunnett.  Technical Support and Project Management: The Landscape Agency.  Sponsor: Royal Bank of Canada.  Contractor: Landform UK. The New Wild Garden was my first main avenue garden at Chelsea, and brought together many of my main themes: bringing an artful approach to ecological design; working with bold, dramatic and colourful planting; and focusing on the role of horticulture, gardens and landscape to tackle pressing urban environmental issues. Photo: Marianne Majeurus
The Concept A garden office or studio (made from a  converted shipping container – the first to be shown at Chelsea) sat at the heart of the garden.  The basis of the garden design was a ‘storm-water chain’, whereby as much rainwater as possible is captured, stored, cleaned and slowly released, to reduce flooding problems in rainstorms.  The green roof acts like a sponge on top of the building.  Any excess water drains out, down the down pipe and into a pool.  The pool in turn can overflow into a second pool, and in a severe storm this can also then overflow into the garden planting.
Habitat Walls Permanent structure was given to the garden through a series of ‘urban dry stone walls’ or habitat walls that rose up through the plantings.  These walls were constructed with stacked layers of this stone around a steel framework of uprights.  Rectangular steel inserts contained various found and recycled materials to create invertebrate habitat.  The tops of the walls were planted with alpines and succulents.  The walls were embedded amongst extensive areas of pollinator-supporting plants.

Planting The garden was planted in three distinct zones: the open sun plantings; wetland plantings, and shade/woodland plantings.  Each of these zones had their own distinct colour themes.  Although for a show garden, the plantings were intended to be realistic representations of the sort of planting that I do for real.

  1. Open Sun Plantings – orange and purple The open sun plantings were designed to bring to mind the same intense colours and density of flowers that are found in my meadow plantings or Pictorial Meadows.  At the time I was feeling tired of seeing informal naturalistic plantings at Chelsea being composed of soft and muted colours and therefore I used a range of stronger, bright colours. Below: Orange, Purple and Grey plantings. Created using a high density of plants in small pots (9cm).  Geum ‘Princess Juliana’, Lychnis coronaria, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ & Verbascum phoeniceum ‘Violetta’

2.  Open sun plantings: pink, mauve and grey

A combination of plants for warm, dry places: Artemisia, Armeria, Scabiosa, Sanguisorba, with Fescue and Setaria grasses

3. Shade Plantings

A grove of multi-stemmed birch enclosed a shady seating area with curved benches.  The planting beneath the trees was richly textured, with a predominance of white and creamy flowers to lighten the darker areas, mixed with pink and purple.

4.  Wetland Planting As part of the over-spill zone for the rain garden features, and area of wetland planting was included.  This planting in this area was set out with the help of Sarah Price.
The Building The building was created from a converted shipping container.  The conversion was carried out by Green Roof Shelters.  The building was fabricated off site, and craned into place at the show.  We traced the history of the container and its journey around the world, and converted this into a visual display (below). The circular habitat panels on the side of the building were created as beautiful features in themselves, but also have a positive function in providing habitat and shelter for a wide range of invertebrates.  The panels were filled with everyday and commonly found materials.

We were so excited to receive a visit to the garden from Queen Elizabeth