RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012: the gardens (1)

by Rhiannon James

The Landform Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald

The world is arriving in Britain this month for the Olympics and the gardens at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show have got into the international spirit. While the World of Gardens section at the show presents a globe-trotting journey from Jordan to the Azores, the smaller gardens have brought inspiration from around the world home.

An iconic American building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has inspired Elizabeth Seymour to create an urban garden that feels lost in the woods (Falling Leaves – PAL345). Fallingwater is a forest retreat and Elizabeth’s Modernist-inspired pavilion brings a sense of a remote natural setting into the city. Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ and an airy combination of woodland plants, including Actaea simplex ‘James Compton’, Cenolophium denudatum and Thalictrum delavayi ‘Album’, surround the structure whilst more greenery creeps in amongst its beams and verticals. “Nature is part of the architecture so there’s muehlenbeckia climbing up the pillars, thyme seemingly supporting blocks of limestone and ivy hanging down so you’re not quite sure what’s manmade and what’s organic,” Elizabeth says. The pavilion cleverly incorporates closed and open areas to bring privacy and some shade to a sunny city space but also to frame and draw attention to the natural beauty of the sky. “I live in Brighton where I’m surrounded by high Regency buildings and my outside space has the same problem. But it also gets a lot of sun so the pavilion is also about control of the sun and the sky and the elements around you,” she says.

Falling Leaves designed by Elizabeth Seymour

Staying in the USA, Catherine MacDonald’s striking urban garden  (The Landform Garden – PAL344) takes cues from the High Line, the public park created on a disused railway line that runs above the streets of Manhattan. The loose, naturalistic style, the merging of planting and paving and the long, narrow shape of the floor slabs are all inspired by the park but probably the most exciting export is the gorgeous palette of rusty orange, grey and white shot through with blue. “There’s quite a lot of rusting metal in the High Line so I’ve just picked out those tones here,” Catherine says. Where the park went high though, Catherine has gone low, creating a sunken seating area surrounded by raised beds with edges that double up as seating to maximise entertaining space in the small garden.

The Landform Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald

Moving a little closer to home, Mike Harvey’s Mediterranean garden (Summer in the Garden – PK80) delivers the big blast of sunshine that everyone has been waiting for this summer. The combination of wood, stone and textured yellow walls (made by dragging a saw blade across the render) deliver all the earthy warmth of the south while the drought-tolerant planting sings with the scent of lavender, rosemary and Russian sage. A fireplace offers heat that the weather is unlikely to provide and the rocking chairs, handmade by the designer from 20 spare pallets, provide a particularly comfy spot to enjoy it. “If you sit down and rock away with your eyes shut, smelling the lavender, you can get far away from the everyday,” Mike says.

Summer in the Garden designed by Mike Harvey

The Two But Not Two garden (PAL349) by Maïa Sautelet heads east meanwhile, with a Japanese-inspired design that features city-friendly kokedama, plants grown in suspended balls of soil and moss.

Look out for part two of the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show review tomorrow.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2012 runs until Sunday 8th July at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. www.rhs.org.uk/Shows-Events/RHS-Hampton-Court-Palace-Flower-Show/2012




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