The Royal Bank of Canada Garden was designed by Charlotte Harris, and built by Landscape Associates. This Show Garden was awarded a Gold Medal by the RHS judges, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017. I visited The Royal Bank of Canada Garden, where I caught up with Charlotte Harris. Here is some information on the Show Garden, but read on for a mini interview with Garden Designer Charlotte Harris herself!
The Confederation of Canada marks its 150th anniversary in 2017. To celebrate this anniversary, and the 10th year of the RBC Blue Water Project, garden designer Charlotte Harris has taken inspiration from The Canadian Boreal, one of the largest and most magnificent forests on the planet, in her design for The Royal Bank of Canada Garden. This is Charlotte Harris’ debut garden design, as a sole designer for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The Canadian Boreal covers a vast expanse, for many people this ecologically important area of forests, freshwater lakes, waterways, and wetlands, epitomises the image of Canada. The Canadian Boreal is a vitally important area and habitat, this area stores twice as much carbon per acre as tropical rainforests.
In the Royal Bank of Canada Garden, a combination of plants which are endemic to Canada, including three characterful Jack pines, known by their botanical name of Pinus banksiana, are planted together with more readily available European alternative plants, the combination of which, is designed to convey a sense of the Canadian Boreal. Visitors to the Royal Bank of Canada Garden, can spot a number of plants, including birch, pines, and larches.
The Royal Bank of Canada Garden features many interesting plants including an Asian meadowsweet known by its botanical name of Filipendula kamtschatica, and the low growing Hudson Bay tea or bog Labrador plant – Ledum groenlandicum. Gaultheria procumbens, also known as wintergreen, a dwarf evergreen shrub, which spreads indefinitely and produces small, bell shaped flowers, followed by scarlet berries.
Visitors can also spot Chamaenerion angustifolium, also known as fireweed or rosebay willow herb, which grows rapidly after forest fires in the Canadian Boreal.
Cornus canadensis, a species of dogwood – a rhizomatous, herbaceous perennial, which thrives in moist acidic soil, providing ground cover in forests where light allows, producing flowers in late spring, which are surrounded by large, pretty white bracts. In autumn, the flowers mature to crimson red berries, which are said to have anti inflammatory and analgesic properties.
Garden designer Charlotte Harris has featured granite boulders, and a pavilion constructed from larch timber and copper, in her design for the Royal Bank of Canada Garden, to reflect the minerals naturally found in the Canadian Boreal.
Pumpkin Beth: Hello Charlotte, congratulations on your Show Garden! Can I ask you, have you got a favourite area of the garden?
Charlotte Harris: Well, I love woodland planting, so as you look through there, (points to the wooded area of the garden) is a favourite bit – but I just love the trees actually, I love the Jack pines, they’re so characterful, and so ‘not Chelsea’. I like, and I’m really interested in textures, whether that’s the textures of the planting; and then obviously, the colour gives it a pop, but actually getting the texture right, or whether it’s the hard materials, or anything else that you use.
PB: How long was your time frame to design and build the garden?
CH: I had June to develop the proposal, I heard from the Bank in July, it goes into the RHS in August, and then I went to Canada in September to research it – I got dropped into the wilderness, and ran around in a canoe, Bear Grylls-style, it was quite amazing, for two weeks. And then as soon as I came back I started developing the plant list, sourcing the trees, and then from the New Year we started working on the hard materials, and then we had about 16 days to build it. So I’m really kind of ready – I had the best time – but I’m really ready for a bit of a break from only thinking about Chelsea. It has been a real privilege, being at Chelsea is a privilege.
PB: It’s good that you’re here this year, there aren’t many gardens.
CH: Well, from a kind of construction point of view it made life easier. But I also think that there’s a lot of new spaces, which I think is quite refreshing – I just think it gives people the opportunity to try out different things.
PB: How will you celebrate when this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is over?
CH: I’ve already promised the contractors that before they break the garden down, I’m going to get into the water!
Other articles that may interest you……….
To read about the new rose introductions from David Austin Roses, which were launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, please click here.
To see an overview with photographs of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, please click here.
To see an overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, please click here.