I also intended to use the opportunity to write a blog post about the gardens, immediately, upon my return. However when I sat down to write, I realised that I am first and foremost a lover of gardens and design but at no point in my life have I ever aspired to be a writer, so this has taken longer than I expected.
First and foremost when I go to a garden or a show, be it an RHS Show, an NGS Open Garden or a Botanical Garden I feel just like anybody who loves gardens and plants in all their amazing varieties. So for me, the initial response to any show-garden is an instant one, from the heart and not the head.
Secondly as a designer, I can look at the overall design and its execution and can appreciate the man hours taken and the attention to detail displayed within a garden. Plant choices can sometimes be a revelation showcasing new or unusual species or varieties. Even familiar plants can feel exciting again if you see them used in a new way.
So for me the the Best Show-Garden was ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’ designed by Matthew Childs. Descibed as a “garden about hope and recovery which has been inspired by Matthew’s experiences after being injured in the 7 July 2005 bombing at Edgware Road station.”
This garden worked for me both in terms of my head and my heart. The finish and attention to detail were excellent. From the transformation of the materials along the length of the tunnel, to the water dripping from the roof of the tunnel, giving it an uncomfortable cavernous feel.
The planting moves from the shade loving Aspleniums, Dryopteris and Euphorbia within the tunnel to a lighter more etherial planting style including Gaura, Geranium, Salvia and Stipas.
Included in the mix was Gypsophila paniculata, which I last saw several years ago at Chelsea, so long ago in fact the photograph of it, is exactly that, a photograph not a digital image.
I am a bit of a devil for photographs (thank goodness for the advent of digital pics) so later in the day, when the photographers had thinned out, I returned to the garden and was offered a leaflet by a lovely gentleman.
Now, it’s not always easy to know if the person offering you a leaflet at a show is the Designer, Landscaper or Sponsor and this chap seemed rather nervous, we had a brief chat during which it transpired he had been involved with the build, in a hole digging capacity and that he was just pleased to help. When I said he must be very pleased with the garden and admitted to him that it was a favorite of mine, a lovely smile spread slowly across his face and he said “I am, It’s my Sons’ Garden”
So you see, Matthew Childs got my Head but it was his Dad, Peter, who got my Heart.