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  • Writer's pictureChris Beardshaw Design

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

We return for a fifth consecutive year with sponsor Morgan Stanley at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

The Morgan Stanley Garden 2019

This year we were inspired to create a contemporary celebration of the traditional English style plantsman’s garden, but wanted to ensure that in the production of the garden, resources were managed sensitively.

We particularly considered how we, as gardeners, can create beautiful plant-rich gardens while moving from the linear practices of ‘extract, consume, discard’ towards a more sustainable, circular approach, where materials and products are kept in circulation as long as possible and waste is minimised.

We've created unashamedly plant-rich herbaceous borders which are a modern take on the classic ‘English Garden’. The formal porcelain terrace at the front of the garden is punctuated by large topiarised Taxus domes; the straight lines of the porcelain tiled pathway gradually fragment into a more sinuous route and weave through the richly planted borders and over the central water feature, towards two relaxation pods at the rear of the garden.

The contemporary pods interplay with each other, referencing the linear and circular and offering a space to reflect.

The deep parallel borders are bursting with rich and vivid blooms and the contrasting foliage. These include the dramatic sculptural foliage of Cynara cardunculus, the burnt orange and copper spires of Verbascum ‘Clementine’, Digitalis illumination series and Isoplexis canariensis, warm purples of Salvia mainacht and punctuated with Iris, Euphorbia and Paeony varieties.

The plants have been grown by Kelways Nursery, in the latest recyclable taupe pots made by British company Aeroplas. These new pots are becoming increasingly visible in garden centres and have been designed for the commercial horticultural sector from UK post-consumer waste plastic. Unlike traditional black plastic pots, the taupe pots can be recycled by consumers through kerbside recycling schemes.

The stand-out specimen tree in the garden is the Pinus Nigra which, with its dramatically curved trunk, creates a stunning piece of natural sculpture. This windblown tree was an accident of nature which would normally have been discarded for not being straight, but instead the nurseryman let it flourish. We wanted to celebrate its journey from straight to curvelinear which helps to illustrate the story behind the garden.

Also featured are unusual flowering shrubs including Aesculus pavia, Cornus alternifolia and Calycanthus floridus, which produce flowers, loved by garden pollinating insects.

A Lighter Environmental Footprint

From the garden’s original concept and design, through to its construction, we have considered how resources can be managed more sensitively and have carefully sourced new and innovative materials and products.

We were extremely proud that the groundworks for the garden were carried out with the help of the brand new compact Volvo ECR25 Electric Excavator. It was the vehicle’s first major construction project since it was launched earlier this month. The new electric excavator offers significant reductions in noise and carbon emissions.

We also tried for the first time an alternative cement free concrete for the foundations of the structures. The pioneering product saves up to 88% CO2 in building projects, yet it is applied in the same way as conventional concrete with comparable concrete strengths achieved.

Even the hi-vis’ vests we've worn during the build can also be recycled after use, unlike traditional high visibility wear. The vests, from British company Pogu, are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

The same environmental principles were applied to the construction and landscape materials being used. The elegant porcelain paving from Mandarin Stone has a high proportion of waste product in its manufacture, which makes it a more sustainable option than quarried stone. Bamboo has been used for the decking and cladding in the structures as it is recognised as a fast growing, sustainable resource, which over its lifetime is carbon neutral.

The two pod structures were designed from the ground up to provide dramatic visual impact while having the weight engineered out of their structure, which made them easier to transport and build on site. The rear-rectangular pod is clad in an innovative material from Easyfit Stone which uses slate in a highly flexible, ultra-thin 2mm finish. The material is extremely lightweight, making it easier and more cost efficient to transport.

The second curved Pod is crafted from glulam, a material made from fine sheets of timbers bonded together which provide good strength to weight ratio compared to steel or concrete. This consumes less energy as well as being derived from a sustainably managed forest.

The Garden’s Reuse after the Show

This year’s garden continues our and sponsor, Morgan Stanley’s, tradition of repurposing all their show gardens to benefit the local community. Groundwork London, a charity that helps communities across London become greener, stronger and healthier, will repurpose the plants and landscape materials from The Morgan Stanley Garden, to permanent homes at Welshpool House in Hackney, Teesdale and Hollybush Estate in Bethnal Green and the Stamford Hill Peace Garden in Stoke Newington.

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