The Silent Pool Gin Garden at Chelsea

Now I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I stopped by this garden, but like me you’re probably wondering why it’s taken until now - and during dry January at that - to share it here. And for the record, my January hasn’t been dry, as the meme goes I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life, but if you’ve been doing it, well done, you’re nearly there - and sorry for this post. Although there’s no actual gin in the garden, unless they’ve used it to fill the pond, but that would just be wasteful and I’m sure we’d have heard about that if it was the case…

It’s the copper features that provide reference to the gin distillation process of the garden’s sponsor, and the space aims to provide a contemporary, but relaxing urban haven for a professional couple to unwind in. And, you’ll understand when you get to the photos, I hope we’re not all expected to unwind like the couple in the last few photos, who were being choreographed while I was there. They were certainly elegant, almost as elegant as I feel after a gin or two (although sadly I think the results in real life aren’t quite the same, whatever I think).

copper accents in the silent pool gin garden at rhs chelsea

The garden combines water, dappled shade and the copper in a space that could easily be replicated in many domestic gardens. It won a Silver Gilt medal and was voted the Best Space to Grow Garden in the People’s Choice vote, and it’s easy to see why isn’t it?

lush green planting breaking up the sleek lines of the space to grow garden

And as with many of the Chelsea gardens there’s more to it than first meets the eye. The delicate blue of the meconopsis (or blue poppy) - there’s one peeking out to the right of the Y in the tree trunk - hints at the colour of the gin bottles produced by Silent Pool Distillers. This wasn’t the only garden to have the unusual flowers in either, there was also meconopsis in the garden to celebrate the British Council’s 70th anniversary in India, in the ‘billion dreams’ garden, with its giant cricket stumps.

A glimpse of the pool most likely not filled with gin
botanicals  - another nod to the garden's sponsor

The planting with its blues, whites, greens and copper contributes to the calming space and five of Silent Pool Gin’s 24 botanicals are included in the garden including angelica, iris (the water loving Iris fulva is in the pale green water of the main pool) and rose.

Oh, and look - there’s that professional couple relaxing!

a professional couple relaxing in the garden
A professional couple relaxing in the garden perhaps

I’m teasing of course, this couple were clearly dancers. She moved in such a balletic way that was entrancing, and both were so supple and each were trusting and strong too, they were beautiful to watch.

pebbles water and copper - a winning combination in this space to grow garden

So that’s another of the Chelsea gardens shown, and one that provides a welcome blast of sun just when we could do with a hint of warmth. I’m not sure what the weather forecast is for you where you are, but in London there’s threats of snow - let’s hope they stay just that, let’s think hot and warm thoughts to help keep them away!

Care and hope in the Myeloma UK Garden

For today’s post we’re popping back to last year’s sunny Chelsea Flower Show and into one of the Space to Grow gardens. This one is sponsored by Myeloma UK and designed to raise awareness of the incurable form of blood cancer which is the second most common form of blood cancer.

The Myeloma UK Garden at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show

The blue acrylic structure represents the role of the carer and is certainly one of the most eye catching elements of the garden - it was large, and hard not to notice. It weighed 7.5 tonnes, so now you see what I mean when I said large, and made of layers it was built by the same team as those of the 2012 Olympic cauldron.

The other thing that you’ll notice as you look more closely at the garden is that there’s no path, and this symbolises and mirrors the situations that many patients face. The boulders represent the cancerous cells and have a combined weight of 18 tonnes, so that’s a lot to fight against for this treatable, but not yet curable disease - the planting most definitely softens the space.

The Myeloma UK garden of care and hope

But there’s more to the garden than the landscaping, although that is a major element of the garden and which gives it its impact. The yew balls mirror the boulders, but provide a softer and more hopeful outlook, as does the delicate cow parsley. I think the background provides a different perspective of the outside world which I’m sure during many illnesses feels a different world away.

No path through the garden which mirrors the situation many patients face

I’m a fan of these show gardens which do much to raise awareness for their charities, because like the garden raising awareness of epilepsy, through a simple flower show (although in reality Chelsea is far from simple!) I’ve learnt - and I’m sure others have too - more, as well as enjoying the space on a more superficial level, as I think you’ll agree the acrylic structure really is the head turner.

Chelsea Flower Show: The David Harber and Savills garden

The Chelsea Flower Show is long gone, and the RHS have even had another show already at Chatsworth and are no doubt gearing up for Hampton Court at the start of July, but I’ve much more to share from my day at Chelsea. You might have already seen pictures of the show gardens, but today I’m starting a series of blog posts sharing my views and thoughts on them. But be warned, I’ve quite a few gardens to cover so we could be doing this for quite some time...

First up is the bronze medal winning David Harper and Savills garden with its fantastic, and striking structures.

Impressive structures in this show garden designed by Nic Howard

For something so large and imposing to also have the delicate pattern was a real contrast.  It was a garden whose structures drew your eye through the space, which I learnt after the event was best viewed head on, and had much more going on than you first thought. 

Planting in the David Harber and Savill garden at the 2018 Chelsea Flower show

The plants add colour and interest to a gravel path, and dry gardens like this fascinate me. Its openness and lightness is quite the opposite of my own garden, which you’ll know is narrow and full of trees, so more like a woodland space, but maybe it’s because it’s so different, almost the opposite that it appeals. 

A side on view of one of the structures in the David Harber and Savills garden

Looking at the individual components of the structures, I couldn’t help but see a resemblance to grave stones, and once that thought entered my head I couldn’t shift it. Don’t get me wrong, the structure great, but his is one where it’s better to view it as a whole, rather than components.  

Corten steel structures and colourful planting

I caught a glimpse of turquoise and so investigated further, by moving a few steps this sculptural bench was revealed. It’s the type of piece that would look good in any season, isn’t it?

the garden was full of interesting structures

And notice how the path has changed to brick.  It’s almost like the garden equivalent of zoning an interior space to signify another purpose, and as you’d expect from a show garden at Chelsea is done, spectacularly well.



At the very far end of the garden there was another burst of turquoise, and once again I headed round to see more, and when I did, I wondered how the local cat, or wildlife population would take to this one. I loved it, but can see this one might be a bit marmite.  

The structure at the end of the David Harber and Savills garden at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show

My verdict: A garden I liked and admired for its boldness and colour, but one that I can see few elements of being replicated on the same scale in domestic gardens.  

What do you think?