This time next month, Rodney,…

Image by David Bartholomew

…we’ll be at Chelsea. Can you believe it? Chelsea Flower Show 2018 is four weeks away! The industry is buzzing with excitement and anticipation (and perhaps the tiniest bit of stress!), and so are the adoring public.

We were privileged earlier this week to attend and support the Chelsea Flower Show Preview evening, hosted by our friends Chilstone in celebration of the company’s 65th anniversary. Held at The Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, all proceeds from the event, including the auction, were donated to charities Myeloma UK and Ellenor.

We were treated to a talk by expert gardener Simon Sutcliffe, from How Green Nursery in Hever, on how he and his team manage to grow 500 plants (many that are out of season) in time for Chelsea: a process that starts about 8 months before! When asked about flower trends at Chelsea this year, Simon said that English country cottage garden is always a recurring theme as “that’s what the punters’ want.” A really interesting insight into what goes on behind the scenes of Britain’s most prestigious flower show.

Following a fantastic musical performance by violinist Andrew Bernardi and pianist Maria Marchant, we heard from Chelsea gold medal-winning designer John Everiss about his experiences at Chelsea and the inspiration behind his gardens and the sculptures within them. This year, John has designed a garden for Myeloma UK, with the pièce de résistance being a 12 foot tall blue Perspex head sculpture! I’m pretty certain that no one will be able to miss that and we cannot wait to see it.

And after you have spent some time taking in the Myeloma UK garden, turn around and look for Chilstone as we have it under good authority that their stand (one of three that Sandstone is designing and building) is practically opposite!

So, a huge thanks and well done to Chilstone and everyone else involved in putting together such a wonderful evening. Now everyone back to work!

Gardens revisited – 2011 BALI Award Winner

It’s getting crazy busy here at Sandstone, what with all the planning and prep for this year’s RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court flower shows in May and July. But we’re also currently working on our entry for the 2018 BALI National Landscape Awards, as the deadline is in June.

This has brought us back to our 2011 award winner, a private garden in Tunbridge Wells that won in the category of Domestic Garden Construction cost between 50 -100K. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the photos below. It is a stunning contemporary garden with elements reminiscent of a Japanese zen garden.

Our clients’ original brief was to refurbish the front and rear garden of their new build house in keeping with its contemporary style and within the framework of the existing white rendered walling.

Extensive consultation allowed Ali to present designs, detailed estimates and schedules of work that were greeted enthusiastically by our clients.  Thus work began!

The rear garden

Being in an urban, built up area the garden was developed to look in on itself and provide its own views. In order to allow sunlight into the garden the crowns of the existing trees were lifted after receiving the appropriate conservation area approval.

The existing slate terraces were relaid due to the poor nature of the original workmanship and allowed for the area to be extended. The lawn was laid using Everedge to provide a clean contemporary edge.

Balau hardwood was used for the bespoke timber screening, pergola and deck (designed and constructed by Sandstone), while the pond at the end of the garden incorporates a water shoot and bubbling water fountain, also designed and constructed by Sandstone.

The planting consists of a variety of evergreen plants, clipped to formal or topiary shapes in newly created borders prepared with organic matter.  Two small borders of perennial plants were created using the clients’ desired colour scheme of purple or white flowers.

The front garden

The front garden was also recreated within the confines of the existing white rendered walls. A small area of artificial grass was laid to good effect and to aid maintenance.

Steps were created to lead up to road level to replace the existing steep slope. These were filled with gravel, planted with lavender and integrated stainless steel LED lights were installed.

Access to the rear garden of this site was an issue and all the materials and equipment had to be laboriously transported through the garage and down a flight of steps!

I’m sure you’ll agree, whatever your personal taste, that it is very beautiful and looks like a tranquil space. It goes without saying that we are extremely proud of this garden and receiving a BALI award was the absolute icing on the cake! Everything crossed that the 2018 awards are as successful. Wish us luck!