Cleve West designed The M&G Garden for The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. The RHS judges awarded The M&G Garden a Gold Medal, and Swatton Landscape, who built The M&G Garden, were presented with The Best Construction Award. This is a new award, the only one of its kind, which was presented for the first time this year, to recognise the importance, and the skill, of the contractors who work at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and to recognise the impact of their work in the finish of each of the Show Gardens.
The inspiration for the M&G Garden came from garden designer Cleve West’s memories of time spent during his teenage years, in an ancient oak woodland, in Exmoor National Park. Instead of recreating a particular area of Exmoor Park, Cleve opted to create a modern, contemporary design, which features aspects taken from Cleve’s memories of the ancient woodland that inspired him and evoke happy memories of times gone by. Oaks – Quercus pubescens, form the main structure of this garden, they evoke the sponsor, M&G’s, values of strength, growth, longevity and reliability.
I caught up with Cleve West at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016, to find out more about this special, and very personal garden.
Pumpkin Beth: Do you have favourite area of your garden?
Cleve West: No, I like all of it. I think obviously this bit down here, which is the general seating space, that’s always nice to have a sit down next to the water and enjoy the sound.
PB: What’s your favourite plant in the garden?
CW: Well the trees… apart from the trees you mean? The trees would be my favourite, because the garden would have worked without all the other plants, it just needed the trees. But if it wasn’t for the trees, there’s a lovely little thing called Taenidia integerrima, a really lovely dainty little umbellifer.
PB: Who grew the plants for the garden?
CW: Hortus Loci grew all the plants for us.
PB: After Chelsea Flower Show finishes, what will happen to the garden?
CW: The trees are going to go to a project I’ve got near Guildford.
PB: What about all the stone? Does that have a home to go to?
CW: The stone is going back to the stoneyard. The stoneyard sort of lent it to us for the show.
PB: They are beautiful stones, I love the way you’ve had some of the stones gently carved to create a little well or reservoir for rainwater to collect, and birds can then bathe in the water.
CW: We were going to put a piece of sculpture into the garden as a homage to David Bowie. It was going to be a star – we carved this starfish out of stone, and we were going to put it in the garden, we planned to make the void of the starfish in the bottom of the pool, and that was going to be black – and of course David Bowie’s last album was called Black Star. But then it became too busy, and the message was becoming too confusing, so I googled ‘starfish’ and ‘Porlock Bay’ where I used to live, and it turned out there’s a really rare starfish called the brittle starfish, which is black, so we carved the outline of the brittle starfish in one of the rocks in the front of the garden, which other people can’t see.
PB: That sounds wonderful! Whereabouts is the carving?
CW: It’s right in the middle of the garden next to the middle tree.
PB: So visitors to the show can’t easily see the carving?
CW: No, no one can see it really.
PB: Would I be able to get a photo, so I can show it to my readers?
CW: Yeah, sure!
PB: Thank you!
Other articles that may interest you…………
To see the top 20 shortlisted plants, including the finalists, and the winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year 2016, please click here.
To see the new introductions from David Austin Roses for the 2016/2017 season, please click here.
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For information on long-flowering container plants that will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects to your garden, please click here.