Chelsea 2016 – The Design

22nd June 2016

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This year I was commissioned by Schellevis to design their trade stand for Chelsea Flower Show. They are a Dutch paving company making contemporary slabs which are cast in such a way as to make them look a bit like volcanic rock when they emerge from the cast.

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It was my task to turn the 5 x 5.5m plot into a show case for their product, appealing to their two markets: Landscape Architects and Garden Designers.

To do this I created a split level design, featuring two outdoor spaces: An urban landscape inspired by the plans for Battersea Power Station, and a contemporary gravel garden with a scattering of Schellevis planks.

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I followed the current trend making the upper terrace an irregular shape, but inserted giant 1m x 1m x 100mm pavers into the edges perpendicular to the boundary walls. This worked well at emphasising the giant size of these elements and they proved very popular with contractors during the build, and visitors during the show too. Not so popular with Paul and his team at Squared Earth who had to lift and place them!

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I wanted the upper terrace to have an element of ‘interior’ about it too, so I used thinner, smaller pavers as a chequer board cladding on the boundary walls, interspersed with rusted steel panels by Grace and Webb as artwork.

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I continued the use of rusted steel throughout the stand, with the upper edges of the terrace and capping for all the boundary walls clad in steel too, as well as the posts for the metallic sail awning.

The huge Schellevis seating blocks were made comfy with Denys & Fielding outdoor cushions in a bright Dutch orange !

I also wanted to give the space a human scale and went to my sculptor friend Rachel Ducker in search of one of her dramatic, life size, wire figures. The copper hair perfectly complemented the orange hues of the rust and fabrics as well as the planting scheme.

Planting is always crucial at Chelsea, but not something the trade stands are well known for. However, from my experience of designing for David Harber over the last three years I knew that carefully thought out planting makes a huge impact, even if there is not much of it. This year I had the pleasure of working with Kelways mainly known for their Paeonies and Iris, they also have a side business growing plants for Chelsea. I had the advantage of not needing to decide on my plants until the last minute, which was a huge advantage this year with the cold weather making choices even more limited.

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I knew I wanted to use Lysemachia ‘Beaujolais’ with its deep burgundy spires, and Schellevis had requested orange as part of the scheme. The pretty Geum ‘Mai Tai’ was a perfect match having magenta in its foliage and stems, and little punchy orange flowers.

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Annual poppies, the bronze grass Carex testacae and Euphobia purpurea all came together well.

While Epimedium ‘Frontlein’ and the Geum made a nice under current to the tall Betula on the top terrace too.

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We were all delighted with the stand and had a fantastic response both during the build and at the show too. A well deserved 4* award to all of us!

CFS Award 2016

Thanks to Paul van Vliet and his team from Squared Earth.