Daily Telegraph, May 2015

English gardens.

15 November 2015

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. Having worked with Marcus on other planting projects, I was excited by the bold and challenging concept for his show garden, inspired by the De Stijl movement. This was a Dutch artistic movement founded in 1917 dedicated to pure abstraction. Its proponents simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary colours along with black, white and grey. While such rules may be respected in other creative disciplines, it doesn’t take a knowledgeable gardener to recognise that this omits the most important colour in any growing landscape. And so Marcus made some important and deliberate concessions to this palette, with the inclusion ofgreen, and also of silver and burgundy to allow the garden to revel in the glorious surge of spring growth.