Thursday, 12 June 2008

Georgian viewing

It seems an awfully long time on paper since last November when Homebase appointed me to do their show garden at Hampton Court show this year. The months have whizzed by in a haze of endless phone calls, meetings, visits to see plants and props, hours of tapping away on e-mails in the wee small hours....

Now here I am with Build-Up starting next Monday, 16th June! Three weeks to build the garden, 21 days of very long hours where night merges into day and please, God, some sunshine this year: in 2007 for my first show garden at Hampton (The Sadolin Garden of Regeneration) I think I ended up with trench foot it was so wet and damp. The BBC very kindly filmed me then looking somewhat bedraggled in torrential rain, wearing a dashing plastic poncho. My 'friends' and gardening clients still have a gleeful look on their faces as they remind me of my TV debut.

The Homebase Room With A View is all about accessing views and vistas, both in the show garden and outside of it, on different levels. The RHS have given us a great position on site (see photo on right) that is perfect for our garden. In the design, a garden room placed off-centre on the rear boundary has big open entrances and picture windows to see gorgeous planting and views from different angles; there's also an eco-roof garden for more views. What's an eco-roof garden, I hear you ask? Well, this rather hostile (windswept, dry, desiccating) environment needs plants that can withstand these conditions, so I've selected drought-tolerant ones, and a planting medium that can sustain them. The latter is a UK sourced recycled engineered substrate - crushed bricks organic matter and other things. It's very light so much better for weight bearing considerations on roof gardens. Sedum matting around the edge of the roof garden have low spreading sedum planted into foam padding. Another recycling initiative, as the foam mats were once old car seats and sofas. Eat your heart out Mr Landfill!

The garden is inspired by a visit last year to the Rievaulx Terraces and Temples, a NT property in North Yorkshire. Originally created in the 18th century as an extension of a garden, the landscaped half mile grass walk is flanked at each end by two temples. As you walk between these, 13 gaps in the wooded escarpment access views below of the ruined Rievaulx Abbey. In Georgian times, the walk ended with a meal in the stunning Ionic Temple. Last Friday, 6th June, I went back to to Rievaulx with Homebase and met up with NT Property Manager Simon Lee for another look at the site. Wonderful, and great to feel that the design inspiration I've harnessed from here seems to be working well in show garden format. I've not tried to re-create the Ionic Temple or the Terrace in the Homebase Room With A View, just adapted some of the design principles into a realistic garden.

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