Explore our 2019 Chelsea Flower Show Force of Nature Garden, promoting the synergy between nature and human well-being.
Stand MA330, Main Avenue, Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3 4SR.
With the world-renown Chelsea Flower Show 2019 now only a matter of days away excitement levels here at Tom Raffield are running at an all time high. Show week always brings with it a few waves of apprehension, last-minute finishing touches and of course a couple of flower show-induced sneezes! We can almost smell the fresh, fragrant herbs from our Force of Nature Garden swaying in the light summer breeze and touching the daring curves of our brand new steam bent stand...
It's time to take an exclusive tour of our Main Avenue Garden Stand and give you a behind the scenes preview of this years' planting scheme - this time implemented by London-based garden and landscape designer, Sheila Jack, and in collaboration with London College of Garden Design.
Inspired by the rural, woodland location of our Cornish workshops, Sheila's planting scheme showcases and pays homage to native foliage, seasonal wildflowers and medicinal herbs. Incorporating plants found in sheltered Cornish woodlands, undisturbed hedgerows and rambling cliff paths, Sheila's design perfectly captures the magic of our familiar, tranquil surroundings and transports nature to the heart of bustling London.
"Exotic trees and shrubs flourish amidst open glades carpeted with wild flowers benefiting from the warm micro-climate. It is a landscape that I know very well, having visited for the past 20 years"
- Sheila Jack, Landscape and Garden Designer.
TR: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your design?
SJ: In late May, Glendurgan garden’s ‘rain forest glen’ emerges and it is, in my opinion, sheer perfection. The foliage of tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, create a vibrant mixture of green hues. The paths and trails that wind their way through the valley are subtly accented with colourful woodland plants. Bluebells burst through to form floral carpets giving way to hazy meadows of towering aquilegias and wild flowers.
This is where I picture myself when designing the Tom Raffield garden -architectural tree ferns will create a shadow play against the curving ribbons of steam bent wood structure without overpowering it.
TR: You've designed the planting scheme for the stand by splitting it into two separate areas, can you talk us through which plants you've chosen for each space and why?
SJ: The planting areas of the stand are the 'valley floor' which surrounds the steam bent oak structure and climbs its many curved faces, Tom Raffield's brand new Tressa Planters (shortlisted for the RHS Product of the Year Award 2019) and the celebrated Green Range Planters.
I've chosen unfurling shuttlecock ferns, Matteuccia struthiopteris and Rodgersia Podophylla to take centre stage in the valley floor area. Aquilegia, iris orchids, cowslips, scented, culinary wild garlic and Geranium will spill over the boundaries to soften the planting edge.
For the Morvah and Merryn Planters I've opted for an array of orchids, lichens, ferns and mosses. For the hanging planters in particular, I've taken inspiration and researched the Japanese art of 'Kokodama', which celebrates bringing the outdoors in. I'm hoping that Asplenium nidus, Billbergia nutans, Coelogyne cristata, Collospermum hastatum, Pleione formosana and Tillandsia usneoides can be planted amongst pin cushion moss within the organic forms of the Tressa and Merryn floor planters.
TR: Tell us about your ideas behind the roof planting?
SJ: The roof planting had to be designed especially to fit within a rather shallow and narrow trench, hence why I've opted for smaller, more delicate species of plant.
I've taken inspiration from estuaries, sea slopes and cliff tops of the Helford and Lizard Peninsula in late May. Surrounded by sea, these places are almost frost-free in winter and bathed in hot sunshine, baked dry in the summer. They are home to a unique mix of plants - the vivid yellows, bright pinks, oranges and reds and are simply stunning.
The fascia level roof area will be planted with species like Allium schoenoprasum, Anthyllis vulneraria, Armeria maritima, Lotus corniculatus, Ranunculus bulbosus, Scilla verna and Sedum anglicum. These plants recall seascapes and remind me of the sea slopes and cliff tops of the Lizard peninsula (near the Tom Raffield workshops).