The Garden Bed – a partnership with Asda, was designed by Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey, the garden was built by Frosts Landscapes. The RHS judges awarded this Artisan Garden a Gold Medal, at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
To celebrate their 50th birthdays, lifelong friends Alison Doxey and Stephen Welch decided to join forces to realise one of their dreams, and create an Artisan Garden together at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. The Garden Bed has been designed to show how easily patients’ beds can be moved into the garden, demonstrating how this simple concept improves the wellbeing of both patients and their families. Alison, an English Master Florist, constructed a quilt for the symbolic patient’s bed. To create this intricate quilt, Alison used 15 meters of plant material, which was crafted, woven and entwined together, to create the symbolic quilt to cover the hospice bed to form the centerpiece of the garden.
Firstly I must just explain that the creators of the Artisan Gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are not able to dig into the ground, so naturally, as they need to accommodate the large root balls of the trees, and the other plants and materials used in their design, the garden has to be built up on a raised level. The real design of this garden is a level and accessible garden, without any steps or different levels in the design. The design of this garden, if there hadn’t been any restrictions on space would be to have adequate room for wheelchair access around the bed and the garden – I just wanted to explain this, as I know that the garden designers took the design of this garden to heart and wanted to create an enriching, accessible garden that everyone could enjoy.
I caught up with Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey, the designers of The Garden Bed, at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016, to find out more about their Artisan Garden – The Garden Bed – a partnership with Asda.
B: What’s the main message behind your garden?
SW: It’s the principal of being able to do it, the principle of bringing flowers and cutting material from the outside and bringing it inside, so there’s the pots – that’s an important message. And then we had to pick some sort of locality, so it was Yorkshire – we’re both from up that way, so we thought “let’s go for Yorkshire”.
AD: I’ve always believed that nature and plants have a tremendous impact on people’s health. My dream has always been to create a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, so it followed that it should be one that incorporates this vision of a ‘healing’ environment. If you reconnect with nature through a garden, it can lift your spirits, restore your senses and open your heart. For me, that’s the garden’s message.
SW: Ultimately the garden is a message of hope. We’re passionate about it – it’s important to have a story.
B: Are you pleased with the garden?
AD: We are pleased with it. It’s the first show we’ve ever done, ever, so we haven’t ever done anything before.
SW: It’s tested our friendship hasn’t it? – you’ve only hit me how many times? Twice?
B: Haven’t you been friends for 40 years or something?
AD: Could be over by next week! No, I think we didn’t know what to expect – we’ve never done it before.
B: I think it looks lovely. Where did you get your plants from?
SW: A number of places. Two or three. Jane Slater who made the artisan ceramic pots. And Fran…
AD: Slater and Clay – Jane Slater made the artisan ceramic pots.
B: Was it Jane that created the sculpture in the garden too?
SW: We’ve used her tulip heads, and Ali’s created basically a display in there, so we built that using plants.
B: Is there anyone you have worked with to create this garden that has stood out and you’d like to thank?
SW: There is somebody actually, his name is Keith Chapman, Keith from Frosts Landscapes.
B: Oh, I love Keith – he’s a great guy!
SW: We wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for Keith, and his knowledge and his kindness, he’s such a nice guy.
B: Keith is great, he’s hardworking and so talented too. You are so lucky to have had Keith working on your garden.
SW: We are, we realise that. We appreciate everything that Keith’s done for us. We’ve had some due cares when it came to building.
B: Alison, how long did it take you to create the bed and your wonderful quilt?
AD: I didn’t do it in one fell swoop, I used the foam, the moss, and then the quilt, and then put the flowers in yesterday morning.
B: Are you going to have to replace those flowers through the week?
B: Are you doing them every night or morning?
AD: Well, I came in this morning at 6 just to check, to make sure they were fresh today, and they were still fresh.
SW: I think they’ll last a lot longer than you think; they’re in tubes.
AD: I put the flowers in test-tubes full of water.
B: Oh, those beautiful little tubes? They’re so good, I like to do things with those little tubes – I love them, you can be out and about and take a little flower with you!
AD: Yes, exactly.
B: Which is your favourite garden by the other designers?
AD: Well, we haven’t had a chance to look at anything, we’ve just literally just been here and building; we’re hoping that when we get back next week we can sit down, take stock and get a look at everything.