Upcoming: RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017

It only seems a few months since we were wrapping up on last year’s Chelsea coverage, but here we are again with a raft of exciting projects Landform are working on for this year’s show!

Landform designer Catherine MacDonald is creating an Artisan Garden for the 2017 show, for the innovative non-alchoholic spirit company Seedlip. ‘The Seedlip Garden, to be located in Ranelagh Gardens, will be a fresh challenge for Catherine, and not least due to being a no dig sloping site. Having designed one Fresh Garden and two Show Gardens in previous years, this will be Catherine’s first Artisan Garden, a category the RHS describes as “truly enchanting and imaginative” and that is a firm favourite with the Chelsea crowds.

An illustration of the Seedlip Garden

The conceptual design will explore the art of distillation setting the scene of a quiet wooded glade where 17th Century apothecary will meet modern laboratory. The garden’s intricate planting, copper details and discreet symbolism will illustrate Seedlip’s unique 350 year journey from ‘book to bottle’ and celebrate the magic of science and nature.

Seedlip has a fascinating story, founded by Ben Branson in his “kitchen in the woods”, with a copper still and copy of “The Art of Distillation”, Seedlip creates non-alchoholic spirits and aims to be the solution to the ‘what-to-drink-when-you’re-not-drinking’ dilemma. Using traditional herbs and spices along with handpicked produce from Ben’s family farm, the non-alcoholic spirits have been championed by some of the world’s most celebrated bartenders and chefs.

Ben Branson, picking peas on his farm

The garden will be a journey of discovery, science and alchemy with a central structure of metal and wood representing the apothecary and laboratory, old meeting new. Water is a key feature given the vital role it plays in nature and for Seedlip, and it will flow from an unseen stream via copper pipework into a rill. The exciting planting will feature some of the plants Seedlip uses in its spirits, species listed in the book ‘The Art of Distillation’ and other plants that have medicinal uses. The dominant colours in the plant palette will compliment the brand: copper, green & grey.

When asked about the challenges of designing the Seedlip Garden, Catherine highlighted how interesting it has been researching the plants to use. As mentioned, many of species to be used in the planting scheme are taken from the book “The Art of Distillation”, the challenge here was identifying the plants from the common names used in the book, which are not necessarily the same as they are now, so she had to work out the latin names. We shall see how preparation for this garden develops over the next few months.


Landform is building a second artisan garden for designer Fiona Cadwallader, who is making her Chelsea Flower Show debut with the Poetry Lover’s Garden:

An illustration of the Poetry Lover’s Garden

Inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “This Lime Tree Bower My Prison”, the garden will create a tranquil retreat using traditional planting and dry stone walls. Evoking a romantic feeling of seclusion and repose, the garden will have a canopy of Lime trees under which a poetry lover can relax and read.

The garden will feature a stainless steel fountain and an artistic floating chaise longue, which will represent Coleridge’s sickbed. The planting colours will be green, white and lemon with accents of azure, offering a calm atmosphere and re-creating the romanticism of the Quantocks in Somerset, where the poem was written.

Landform will be collaborating with dry stone walling specialist Andy Loudon who we have worked with previously at Chelsea. In 2012, Andy worked with us on Nigel Dunnett’s Blue Water show garden to create the amazing Trulli-style structure and then again in 2014 when he crafted the dry stone walls on the RHS exhibit designed by Alan Titchmarsh and Kate Gould. We’re really looking forward to having him back on the team for some true artisan work, with the garden walls being handmade on site using Purbeck Stone.


Last, but by no means least, Landform are pleased to be building the “Welcome to Yorkshire” Show Garden, designed by Tracy Foster.

An illustration of the Welcome to Yorkshire Show Garden

As you would expect, this garden is a celebration of Yorkshire, but will focus on Yorkshire’s dramatic and breathtaking coast as the main theme. Taking inspiration from the rugged beauty of Flamborough Head, the garden will include walls representing the chalk cliffs and the beach below.

This main avenue show garden will also have a ruined abbey, linking back to Whitby Abbey and other historic structures in Yorkshire, and a trompe l’oeil painting setting the context of the shoreline back within the farmland beyond.

The coastal style planting will have a wild feel with colourful wildflowers, grasses and native trees. We will bring you more information on Tracy Foster’s garden as it develops in the next few months.


Finally, we are thrilled to be building a special RHS un-judged exhibit, designed by Nigel Dunnett, someone we have built for on many occasions at the flower show. We will bring more news about this in our next blog.

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