Chelsea Flower Show 2015: when the gardeners are inspired by Piet Mondrian!

Photo: Oleksii Popovskyi / Getty / Helen Guest / Alamy / Elaine Lesser
Photo: Oleksii Popovskyi / Getty / Helen Guest / Alamy / Elaine Lesser

The challenges of building a successful show garden for Chelsea are many. Such a project calls not for proficiency but for excellence across every discipline, from concept to construction, plant selection to plant placing and material choices to fabrication. So it’s a natural and necessary step for any designer embarking on this journey to enlist a team of collaborators who help drive up standards and test horizons of possibility. Marcus Barnett, designer of the Telegraph garden for Chelsea 2015, cites plants as a priority in all his projects. His design for Chelsea, in particular, demands considerable planting ingenuity to fulfil the vision.

The result is a hard-working, intensive space, pulsing with something of the rhythm of an art gallery’s changing exhibition and demonstrating that a small urban garden can deliver interest and beauty over a full year. This is a playground for the informed gardener, one who is seduced by the saturated hues and exotic structures of bulbs and annuals as well as perennials, and yearns to exercise their creative flair in different ways each year.

Planes of colour at different heights are designed to be viewed from the ground or from above, where an upper-storey balcony, for example, might offer a different perspective. The importance of visual “rests” becomes apparent, so we’ve used foliage in green, silver and burgundy, to build bridges and transition points between the intense primary hues. Marcus has a personal colour guru in his wife Louise, an accomplished portrait artist. Their discussions on colour chemistry and perception during the design process have contributed to the interpretation. While the colours are to be saturated and intense in accordance with De Stijl principles, nature has imposed a micro detailing in the interpretation through flower groupings. First impressions from a distance deliver rectangles of primary colours, but closer inspection and engagement with the garden reveals tonal variation and movement through the medium of flowers, which bring life and sensitivity to the interpretation.

Source: The Telegraph.

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