Saturday, 18 June 2011

Chelsea 2011: Our best in show

The garden we thought was best in show at Chelsea was the RBC New Wild Garden, sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and designed by Nigel Dunnett, Director of the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield.

The judges only found it worthy of a Silver Gilt medal, but we thought it had more good ideas than any other garden, although at 10x12m (33x39 feet) it was one of the smallest of the 'large show gardens'.

We have a green roof on our shed. So, we're always interested in seeing what can survive up on a roof.

It used a refurbished 10-year-old shipping container as a garden studio, with a wonderful green roof full of nectar-rich flowers for wildlife, and insect habitats on the front wall.

Reflecting pools captured rainwater and Dunnett used attractive dry stone walls to provide structure to the drifts of flowers, such as alliums and the bright orange Geum Princess Juliana.

The planting was dense but everything worked together beautifully.

The tops of the walls were filled with different varieties of sempervivum and sedums, which can tolerate very dry conditions.

The walls also contained a wide variety of different insect habitats, including old books (as paper pulp is useful for some insects, such as wasps, to build nests). I would never have thought of recycling old books this way, but will definitely try it for the bug hotel I'm building on the allotment.

A wooded area at one end was filled with Himalayan silver birch trees and shade-loving plants, most with white flowers to brighten up the darker areas.

According to Dunnett, part of his inspiration for the garden came from the natural planting ideas of Irish-born Victorian horticulturist and journalist, William Robinson. Robinson popularised the use of perennials and nature conservation in gardens through such books as The Wild Garden (1870).

The design was also influenced by the craftsmanship of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Iris sibirica - Tropic Night

 How wonderful would it be to have this as your home office?

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