Friday, 20 July 2012

RHS Tatton Gardens

Another week and another fun trip to an RHS flower show, this time up in the north on the grounds of Tatton Park.  While the weather may not have been anything to write home about, some of the gardens certainly were worth blogging about.

I made the 8 hour round trip partially to meet new designers and sculptors, but largely to witness 1st hand the gold winning medal of my good friend and outstanding designer Alan Gardener (I know, wonderfully appropriate name.  Thank goodness his surname wasn't 'Murderer').  His garden, inspired by and representative of an orchestra pit, did not disappoint.

Tall spires of tubing exploding out from a sloped bed of vibrant colour, as the wind passes over the top the varying heights play a gorgeous melody, in tune with the gentle undulations of the grass planting.  Squint your eyes and the sections of the orchestra are laid out in colour; the large base drums of the box balls, the delicate flowers of the string section and the high notes of the woodwind filling in the spaces.  I love Ipe (sometime known as Brazillian Walnut) as a wood, the simple colour of the conductor's podium was a great foil to the colours of the planting.  I thought that this was a wonderful interpretation of the brief and thoroughly deserved the gold.

This garden showcased Alan's playful sense of humour as well as his adoration and expert knowledge of plants while, at the same time, was confident in its simplicity and kept to a limited palette of foliage and textures.  I cannot wait to see his next one!

There were also some great displays from the RHS' Young Designers category, I thought that all 3 were outstanding and learned that the difference between 1st & 2nd place was a mere point.  My favourite (just about) was Katherine Wills' "A Prison Garden", shown below.

Gorgeous, great seating, geometric ground plan - this ticked a lot of my boxes and had the added bonus of an inspiring story (the garden was built by offenders, the colour scheme one used by institutions to calm aggressive behaviours).  London-based Katherine was very unlucky to miss out on winning the Young Designer of the Year, though to be fair she was up against a worthy adversary in the shape of Tristen Knight.

His garden was based on the industrial architecture on brownfield sites in Victorian and 20th century Britain. These sites, often neglected and unloved can be transformed into gardens of great beauty and he reflects this in his garden perfectly.  'Brownfield Beauty' was both innovative and attractive, with 100% upcycled furniture from Thomas Bramwell (whom we have the privilege of representing, more info to follow).

I didnt' see much in the way of sculpture that I fell in love with, but it's wonderful to see young British talent on display and, who knows, some of these designers may source Marshall Murray pieces in their future masterpieces?

Thanks to the RHS for the tickets (and the coffee!), especially to Rachel Horsely who organises a fantastic show.  The show runs until this Sunday if you have the time.

Link to the RHS Tatton Gardens page

Friday, 6 July 2012

"Riot of Colour" - the RHS goes all guerilla.

At Hampton Court Flower Show this year I saw a show garden as striking as it is thought provoking - The Edible Bus Stop garden "Riot of Colour".

The garden was inspired by the shocking events of last summer, the planting described as a representation of the riots.  A burned out telephone box and london taxi burst with plants, nature reclaiming them and transforming them into something quite beautiful.  To the rear of the plot a wall is covered in  vibrant graffiti, framed by sumptuous climbers.

A solitary hornbeam (carpinus betulus) grows out of the tarmac road, the double yellow lines flow into an ingenious bench that wraps around the trunk - nature and urban development in harmony rather than at odds.  I love this idea and think it sums up much of what the message that designers are trying to convey - turning urban into urbane.

The garden's aim is to raise awareness of a larger project.  The Edible Bus Stop originated as an act of 'guerrilla gardening' (gardening on land that the gardeners do not have legal right to use, often an abandoned site or area not cared for by anyone) intended to improve the quality of life for local London residents by growing edibles at a South London bus stop.  Their belief is that "a brutal landscape makes for a brutal outlook", hard and soulless streets are part of the reason for the problems seen by Londoners in the shocking riots of 2011.  By creating green spaces, as well as by engaging local communities in their ongoing upkeep, this project seeks to create a sense of community so sorely lacking today.

Winston Churchill once said that "If all the world were gardeners then there would be no war", a wonderful sentiment and one that strikes to the core of this project.  If you want to know more about the project then you can visit their site at:

Burned out cars, bus stop signs and police "Do Not Cross" tape are not the first thing that springs to mind when considering garden sculpture, however I believe that show gardens should provoke ideas and inspiration as much as an enjoyable aesthetic.  Few clients would want this garden to be re-created in the way that perhaps a CHelsea Show garden might work.  However, you might love the yellow line bench, this would certainly work in a residential property.  The use of planting and graffiti could look fantastic in the right property.

I love this garden, easily my pick of the show and plan to discuss ways in which Marshall Murray can help get this message out through upcoming exhibitions and events.  Wonderful idea, beautifully executed.