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RHS Chelsea 2020 | The Facebook Garden : Growing the Future

''Growing the Future''
Sponsored by Facebook UK
Designed by Joe Perkins 

This garden is designed to highlight the benefits of increasing the UK’s tree cover to help combat the changing climate, ensure biodiversity, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. It’s a tactile garden made of timber, with a naturalistic planting palette, and a contemporary and comfortable atmosphere inspired by the British countryside. It features a rolling meadow, a woodland bank, and rising beyond, a woodland edge of trees and shrubs. It champions timber both as a versatile and beautiful material and as a vital part of the response to the changing climate.

We are so pleased to be working with Joe for a second year, and this garden is a very different planting palette to the windswept coastal plants that we grew for him in 2019. This time its predominantly woodland and meadow plants, many of them native to the UK or North America. The challenge with any naturalistic planting scheme is to ensure that the plants look like a natural population, variable in size and form, and also that they do not look too “nursery-grown”, or perfect. They also need to sit together as if they have always been there, which is part due to the skill of the growers, and part down to the skill of the planting team. 
This is particularly important with Digitalis (foxgloves) where we can have plants flowering from 45cm to 1.8m tall depending how we grow them on the nursery, and where in the Chelsea garden they are needed to be placed.

                 Joe Perkins | 

Joes planting list includes a large number of ferns and grasses which form a backdrop to the flowers. We grow many hundreds of ferns for Chelsea each year, and we will often grow them led on their sides for placing in vertical crevices, with the foliage still reaching to the light. This is a tricky challenge for watering, but necessary for the effect that Joe will need. Its crucial with grasses that they do not look too lush especially when grown close to the base of a large tree, but conversely next to a watercourse, where there is plenty of moisture, the foliage needs to be more verdant.

                              Some of the Ferns we are growing for Joe 


                               Seed raised Grasses                                            Early morning frosted Foxgloves, in two different sizes

We always enjoy championing British native plants in Chelsea gardens, as they naturally will be more suited to gardens in the UK than many of the non-native plants that gardeners try and force to grow in unsuitable places. When grown well they will be larger, more floriferous and will have pollen bearing flowers for bees and insects, unlike the sterile hybrids that get promoted as novelties which become random impulse buys, but are unlikely to thrive long term in the garden.

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