The Brief – The Build
Today I would like to talk to you about the show garden process itself and the building of them.
Obtaining sponsorship is crucial when building a show garden due in part to the immense cost involved in the pursuit of perfection, perfection one has to aim for!
Moss plays a big part in Japanese gardens and I decided to use sustainable cushion moss as an undulating rhythm throughout the space. I wanted to create a feeling of calmness inspired from sitting on the beach and watching the waves lap over the shore. The RHS are seriously committed to combatting the destruction man has and is still doing to the planet over the years and therefore (and quite rightly) everything used in a show garden has to be responsibly sourced and sustainable. This meant that the moss I needed to use had to be grown hydroponically in a laboratory rather than taken from the forest.
Trees and plants also required “passports” to ensure that pests and diseases aren’t present or transmitted, to this end, The RHS checks the validity of ALL plants entering the showground. When you look at places like Italy where Xyzella has decimated olive tree crops, you can see why there are strict regulations.
The wood for the build was especially difficult to source in 3metre lengths and needed FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. Consequently, I ended up getting redwood as it is fast growing and sustainable.
My contractor Dan and I had many meetings to discuss the build, as part of the design is the submitting of construction drawings. Thankfully, he was able to suggest a few tweaks in putting the outside frame together to make things simpler and more cost effective. Most timber would be cut to size off site and bolted together when the build started with the off cuts being used to make the bench within the planting. Using the same materials and bringing them into the planting brings the design together. The outside black traditional Japanese frame would provide shade for the moss and tender planting whilst a double pergola as you enter the garden (again in black) is very traditional and also frames the space including the specimen Niwaki tree.
Judging and press day is done the day before the show opens to the public and Jane agreed to wear the full Geisha outfit (including hair style), ‘Tabi’ socks and the very un-comfortable ‘Geta’ shoes.
AKIRA BRIEF (imagine its being built for a couple and is a real garden)
From the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ comes this patio garden specifically inspired and designed around a couples travels in the Far East and their love of things oriental.
The couple wished for a garden space that reflects this passion, and has an essence of Japanese planting, encompassing the spiritual calmness so often experienced in the Shinto and Buddhist temple gardens of that land.
The high walls give a sense of protection and seclusion, whilst the inner space is reminiscent of a classical ‘Chashitsu’ Tea room