Pro Landscaper May 2024

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This year's winners revealed


MAY 2O24
LET'S HEAR IT FROM James Gleghorn, Greenscape Gardens
ANN-MARIE POWELL ChannellingOCTAVIA HILL at Chelsea RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 Preview

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Each year – or certainly in recent years –the RHS has been striving to lower the carbon footprint of its flagship show. Opening its doors for just one week before the award-winning gardens are dismantled, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is arguably far from green; but that’s something that the charity is trying to change. Take last year, when it introduced sustainability to the show garden selection stage and made it mandatory for gardens to go onto a permanent location.

This year, though, the RHS has taken it a step further. Spearheaded by Nicholsons, a Green Garden Audit has been carried out for all Show and Sanctuary gardens, assessing everything from biodiversity and materials to waste and water. It worked, too. Carbon emissions across these categories have been reduced by an impressive 28%.

The efforts of these garden designers and contractors will not go unnoticed either, with a new Environmental Innovation Award up for grabs. “The RHS has a responsibility to take a leading role in encouraging everyone to progress and drive environmental innovation and collaborate with the industry to make positive, sustainable changes,” says Sarah Poll, the RHS’ head of shows development.

It’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction; but is there enough recognition for the contractors who are finding alternatives to high carbon products or opting for more sustainable construction methods? Cement, in particular, has fallen out of favour at this year’s show, with the majority of gardens being constructed without it (see page 55). The time, effort and research that goes into sourcing and trialling alternatives is significant and should be recognised, not just by the RHS but in the BBC’s coverage of the show too.

This is not a critique of the RHS – far from it. I applaud the charity’s efforts in making Chelsea greener than ever. But this is only possible through the collaboration of both the garden designer and the contractor, and that should be applauded too.

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11 Pro Landscaper Business Awards 2024

Find out who topped which category as well as this year’s Supreme Winner in our coverage of the ceremony

In a milestone year, Greenscape Gardens is building at Chelsea for the second time and continuing to push its capabilities


Could Chelsea become cement free?

An SGD Award-winning modern cottage garden by Emily Crowley-Wroe, where planting takes centre stage

37 Travelling Textures

Langlea Garden Design & Construction

scooped a National Landscape Award for a new ‘outdoor room’ at a Brighton townhouse

43 Green Footfall

The popular Grade II-listed Parliament Square Gardens have been restored and reinvigorated thanks to Inscapes

Cement is hardly being used by contractors at this year’s show, but could it be dropped completely, and what stands in the way?


Inspired by the Next Generation

Working with primary school pupils, Harry Holding has designed the first show garden with children, for children at Chelsea

67 Blooming Brilliant

The community gardening competition is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a show garden by a father and son duo

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024
31 Enchanting Escape
17 Two Decades and Counting Belderbos Landscapes is celebrating its 20th anniversary by entering into an Employee Ownership Trust
25 Let’s Hear It From... James Gleghorn

Chelsea’s Green Heart

The Great Pavilion continues to be the real star of the show, explains RHS’ director of gardens and shows, Helena Pettit

86 Cultivating Perfection from Seed to Show

With 20 days to go until visitors flock to the showground, Mark Straver shares the hard work of a nursery behind the scenes


Are standards just a load of BS?

The new BS 7533-102 for paving installation could have a significant impact on domestic landscaping, reckons David Strows

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 CONTENTS 5
MAY 2O24 PRO LANDSCAPER BUSINESS AWARDS 2024 This year's winners revealed INSPIRED BY THE NEXT GENERATION RHS No Adults Allowed Garden LET'S HEAR IT FROM James Gleghorn, Greenscape Gardens ANN-MARIE POWELL ChannellingOCTAVIA HILL at Chelsea RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 Preview PEOPLE 48 Wet and Wild Matt Evans on how to dive in at the deep end and incorporate swimming pools and natural swimming ponds into a design 71 RHS Chelsea Flower Show preview Everything you need to know about this year’s Feature, Show, Sanctuary and All About Plants Gardens 94 Going to Great Lengths Lewis Normand explains what separates the ‘good’ designers from those who are ‘great’, from planting to material choices ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 37 31 60 Cover image ©Ann-Marie Powell Gardens


Concerns are growing for UK horticulture as it prepares to take yet another hit from the rise in import costs. The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has expressed its concern following the announcement of the common user charge (CUC).

As part of the import controls under the Border Target Operating Model scheduled to be introduced on 30 April, the CUC will apply to commercial imports of animal products, plants

and plant products via the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, entering and leaving Great Britain.

With 90% of UK growers importing plants at some stage in the growing cycle, HTA chairman, James Barnes says this will be “a huge new cost for many, hitting SMEs hard, particularly those using groupage.”

He say that while “it is a relief that we at last have the headlines of the CUC” the UK horticulture sector is expected to be the “highest user of BCPs, a majority of which are SMEs already

ROUNDUP Industry Updates


Anew report finds national parks across England and Wales are struggling to restore nature as a result of insufficient funding and outdated design.

National parks currently cover 10% of England and 20% of Wales, but only 6% of their combined land coverage is being effectively managed for nature, according to the Campaign for National Parks’ (CNP) new report.

The National Parks Health Check Report also reveals only 13.7% of national park land is publicly owned – a majority is privately owned and used as farmland.

The CNP report highlights a number of the park’s across England and Wales were established 75 years ago with a remit to address urbanisation.

While supporting nature recovery is part of that remit, the overall mission is outdated, according to CNP. Its current purpose does not reflect the modern-day climate and biodiversity crisis.

It could be argued that this lack of modernisation is a repercussion incurred from government funding cuts for the parks by 40% (in real terms) since 2010.

CNP is calling for a new deal for national parks; this includes the banning of all burning of moorlands within national parks and a ban on all forestry plantations on any peat soil.

The charity also calls for government agencies and water companies to pay for the restoration of areas impacted by past damaging actions.

experiencing wider increased cost pressures, we had sought an early announcement for business planning and certainty, a simple and proportionate approach per phytosanitary certificate.”

Adding that while the CUC is critical, it is “just one part of the jigsaw of the April border changes, a puzzle that is far from solved.”

“The charges will undoubtedly increase costs, potentially reduce consumer choice, and increase the likelihood of empty shelves.”


Returning to 2024 to discover the 10th class, entries for the Pro Landscaper's 30 Under 30:The Next Generation, in association with Green-tech are now open.

With 270 industry experts already awarded, the initiative continues to recognise the industry's up-and-coming talent.

Kris Nellist, Green-tech’s managing director, says: "I am delighted that Green-tech will continue our sponsorship of Pro Landscaper's 30 Under 30: The Next Generation initiative. It's a pivotal programme that gains traction with each passing year. Within the landscaping and horticultural sectors, numerous career paths await, and this initiative plays a crucial role in showcasing them. Being recognised as a 30 Under 30 recipient is a remarkable milestone, offering avenues for personal advancement and professional growth.”

You can nominate yourself or a colleague, so long as the nominee was aged 30 or under on 1 January 2024 and works within the horticulture, arboriculture, garden design or landscape sectors, (and has done so for at least one year).

For more information, contact:

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 6


Land Studio is partnering with Gwynedd Council to deliver a new design for the public realm space at the Viaduct Gardens in Barmouth, mid Wales. The studio’s plans will look to

alleviate historic flooding issues through the use of open and covered SuDs systems.

Surface water collected will be retained in new coastal themed planting beds. The planting concept will “reflect that of the

local flora, with hardy coastal pioneers, multi-stem birch trees and large specimen Scots pine tree,” says managing director, Simon Richards. New outdoor furniture will also be established in the space.

“Whenever we start a project, we aim to build with nature to ensure that our schemes are of their place. In Barmouth, this means embracing and working with the nature of a coastal environment, ensuring that our designs sit within the landscape and not apart from it.”

Land Studio emphasises that having its landscape architects, ecologists, and engineering design experts collaborate enables a "nature-led design approach".


Blakedown Landscapes has partnered with Auditel as part of its pledge to achieve carbon neutrality.

The landscaping and civil engineering company already has a long standing commitment to sustainability, with a portfolio that includes landscape construction, environmental improvements, playground construction and grounds maintenance.

Managing director, Steve Buckingham, says: “Climate change is happening. It is the defining environmental issue of our time, causing an unprecedented loss of biodiversity, destroying ecosystems, and threatening human existence.

“Addressing it is a collective responsibility and we all have a part to play.

“Our vision is to integrate sustainable practices, materials and technologies into our

projects, ensuring they are environmentally friendly, regenerative, and contribute to the wellbeing of communities.”

He adds that partnering with Auditel will ensure Blakedown's landscaping solutions are delivered sustainably.

The company has already made operational changes to offset and reduce carbon emissions, such as replacing petrol hand tools with battery-powered ones and prioritizing water and recycling efficiency.


Landscape Supplies Herts, formally known as St Albans Stone, has been acquired by wholesale building supplier, George Davies Turf (GDT).

Landscape Suppliers Herts is known for its importation and selling of natural stone products, as well as providing a range of landscaping materials.

Head to


Border Control Posts' significant costs... plants-are-expected-to-rise-in-priceagain-this-year-heres-why/


How this event could inspire greener cities. small-spaces-and-community-gardeningcelebrated-at-first-rhs-urban-show/


From appearing on TV shows to exhibiting on Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the National Trust has a busy year.

The acquisition will see an expansion in George Davies Turf’s existing portfolio. Founder George Davies comments that himself and founder of Landscape Supplies Herts, Mike Johnson, share a mutual “respect for each other having built [their] businesses from scratch.”

Johnson adds that he “knows [Davies] shares the same ethos” as he does, concluding that he is reassured that “the company is in good hands.”

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 7
©Ann-Marie Powe l l
Online exclusives
©Paul Upward Photography


Long standing supplier and landscaper for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Crocus, has announced that it will be stepping back after this year’s show.

Since it was founded by Mark Fane and Peter Clay in 2000, Crocus has been a staple at Chelsea, supplying plants and building gardens for the last 22 shows. Fane recently revealed to Gardens Illustrated that Tom Stuart-Smith’s The National Garden Scheme Garden and Ula Maria’s Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden, will mark the end of the company’s involvement at Chelsea.

He cited numerous reasons, including that its involvement is no longer commercially beneficial. With around 8,000 plants needed for

each Chelsea show garden, this step back will free up time for the nursery at its busiest time of year.

RHS FlowerChelsea Show2024 Preview

Crocus not only grows and supplies all its show garden’s plants, but is also responsible for their landscaping.

Out of the 36 judged show gardens in nursery’s portfolio, 12 have won Best Show Garden and 33 have taken home Gold medals. crocus-bids-farewell-to-chelseaflower-show-involvement

ROUNDUP RHS Chelsea Special


In an effort to recognise the environmental ingenuity of its gardens, the RHS is introducing a sustainability focused award at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. ‘The Environmental Innovation Award’ looks to celebrate “the examples of excellence in progressive environmental ingenuity” on display at the show, says the RHS.

Every garden that goes through the newly established Green Garden Audit – which this year was mandatory for all those in the Show and Sanctuary categories – will be eligible for the award. Design changes implemented as a result of the new audit saw a reduction in carbon emissions of almost 30%.

Nicholsons, which conducted the audits alongside RHS head of sustainability Malcolm

Anderson, reviewed every garden’s design and build plans against the new criteria, including material selection, waste, biodiversity and ecology, water and air. The team then worked with the garden’s designers and contractors to make workable changes in order to reduce the environmental footprint.

Anderson says “the introduction of the audit this year helps us take this one step further, enabling us to better understand the carbon footprint of the gardens at the show.” rhs-announces-new-sustainabilityaward-at-chelsea


Designed “backwards”, Carey Garden Design Studio based its ideas and preparation on the relocation plan. designing-a-show-gardenfor-relocation


Garden designer Ula Maria will be helping to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy UK.


Aselection of plants from the National Garden Scheme Garden are to be sold in support of the charity. The garden will be relocated to f orm part of the new garden at Maggie’s at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

With the relocation not set to begin immediately, the perennials, selected by the garden’s designer, Tom Stuart-Smith and Peter Clay, co-found of Crocus nursery, will need new homes. They are to be sold at a plant sale, taking place on Saturday 1 June.


Designed to showcase how size needn’t be an issue, the Balcony and Container Gardens aim to inspire urban dwellers who might have limited access to a garden. 9-top-tips-for-balcony-gardensaccording-to-chelsea-designers

Online exclusives
prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 8 BUSINESS


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Nurture Landscapes has been announced as the Supreme Winner at this year’s Pro Landscaper Business Awards, in association with Caribbean Blinds.

It topped the Grounds Maintenance Company category earlier in the evening, with judges saying that Nurture Landscapes has an impressive track record for employee and client retention.

The market-leading business has a strong ethos and sustainability credentials, with a mantra of ‘recruit for attitude, train for skill’ at the heart of its approach to people. Glowing client testimonials and great commitment to the industry and the local communities in which it operates were all highlighted by this year’s judges.

There were 17 category winners overall at the ceremony, held on Friday 19 April at Old Billingsgate in London, with two new categories – Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Investment/Acquisition of the Year –showcasing how the landscaping industry is changing and moving forward.

TV presenter and radio broadcaster Nicki Chapman, who has become a regular on the BBC’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show coverage, hosted the awards, which received a record number of entries this year.

Congratulations to all this year’s winners!

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 11

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prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 14

TWO DECADES and counting

In its 20 th year, Belderbos Landscapes is rewarding its team’s efforts to reach this milestone by becoming employee owned

From starting his own landscaping company 20 years ago from his kitchen in South West London, to growing it to be one of the most respected landscape design and build businesses in the South East, Ed Belderbos has a lot to be proud of over the last two decades. With the help of his wife Claire and a trusted team, Belderbos Landscapes is now recognised for its high-end garden design, landscaping, and maintenance, working on desirable residential gardens and exclusive commercial projects across London and the home counties.

Like most, it has weathered a few storms to reach its 20-year milestone, such as navigating economic downturns, a global pandemic, the changeover to a now mostly ULEZ compliant fleet, as well as talent and material shortages. The Belderbos Landscapes team has worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges and is resolute in its efforts to deliver inspiring and immersive green spaces and customer experiences standing the test of time.

Everyone can have a direct influence on the growth of the business, and this is empowering for all involved
Claire Belderbos

Despite its growth, the company still retains the original ‘family feel’, with courtesy and professionalism a notable mainstay of all office and on-site interactions. There is a visible ‘one team’ approach and progression through the ranks for those with a hard-working ethic and commitment to excellence. To further strengthen its focus on the team, Belderbos Landscapes will become an Employee Ownership Trust business this spring. As it approaches this anniversary, it is important to Ed and Claire Belderbos, that the future success of Belderbos Landscapes is secured. “We have a fantastic team who have shown the company great loyalty over the years. We would like to take the opportunity to pass the ownership to the entire team, who are actively involved on a daily basis, so they have more responsibility and reward from the future success of the business,” says Claire Belderbos. “Everyone can have a direct influence on the growth of the business, and this is empowering for all involved.”

An EOT allows the owners to control the exit speed and strategy to create a safe and orderly transition. Having given the future of the business a great deal of thought over the last few years, the directors spoke to different people with wide-ranging business experiences and felt the EOT approach best suited the future of the business. Ed Belderbos is still very involved day-to-day and will continue to ensure the business continues to be strong and well managed. He is most proud of his exceptional team, with some people having been with the company since the early days. Growing, creating employment, and finding ways to navigate external challenges as a cohesive unit, Belderbos says “the team is galvanised;

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 17

everything feels optimised.” The team has built a loyal following of designers whom it works with on projects of all sizes, whilst also enjoying working with new designers. “We have started working with three new designers since January and have been heartened with a theme of positive feedback about the calibre of “really good people” we employ – ensuring a positive experience for everyone.”

Projects range from a Wimbledon family home to a hotel in Central London; no project is off limits so long as the vision, brief and budget are aligned.

landscaping its fifth garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Flood Re: The Flood Resilient Garden. "We have our process but there is always buzz of excitement and anticipation,” says Belderbos.

Our work ethic here is strong, and our culture is always ‘solutions focused’
Ed Belderbos

Belderbos Landscapes has completed more than 1,600 landscaping projects over the last 20 years and learned valuable lessons within that time,“so I can safely say that there is not much we have not seen or experienced, which should provide peace of mind to any designer or client,” says Belderbos.

Having studied Landscape Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, Belderbos began fulfilling his lifetime ambition, after spending five years as an infantry officer serving in a battalion whose informal motto is ‘Make it happen’! “There are many parallels in the two environments, such as working outside and being given a problem to resolve.“Working with people to build landscapes is challenging and rewarding. Our work ethic here is strong, and our culture is always ‘solutions focused.”

With several interesting projects on the horizon, Belderbos Landscapes is constantly moving forward and adapting its strategy and approach to stay relevant and succeed. In its 20th year, Belderbos Landscapes will be

The journey towards building a garden at Chelsea normally begins with a designer having enormous faith and selecting Belderbos Landscapes to be a part of their team – this year, it’s Naomi Slade and Ed Barsley. “Their confidence in our brand stems from our years of experience; not just delivering the finest quality gardens, but our reputation for providing customers with solutions. It is both exciting and challenging to apply the knowledge and skills of our craftsmen to the design. Chelsea 2024 is no exception, and we have a fantastically challenging garden to build to an exceptional design.”


Diverse and inclusive company fostering creativity, and a positive atmosphere and culture that comes from the top.

Experienced and dedicated planting team, separate to the hard landscaping.

Building a stable and experienced team of horticulturists who maintain the completed landscapes.

Recruitment and retention committed to development and reward, with trust in its high-quality managers.

Open to change and new lines of business, like maintaining the interior planting for a large tech company; now offering Cane-line, high-quality outdoor furniture.

The plan for the future of Belderbos Landscapes is to continue to deliver high quality design, landscape construction and both internal and external maintenance. Belderbos Landscapes would like to build on its recent growth in the internal plant maintenance sector and continue a broad geographical reach in London and the home counties.

With so many new opportunities on the horizon, and a fifth Chelsea show garden to showcase its expertise, Belderbos Landscapes’ milestone year looks set to be one of its best yet.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 18
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How can I design a show garden with its permanent location in mind?

Jilayne Rickards draws on experience, explaining how to create a show garden whilst thinking about the end destination

Ashow garden often appears for just one week, but in some cases can define a designer’s career, so it has to look sensational. And yet, from an environmental point of view, the long-term home of the garden is more important. On top of that, it is highly likely that the two garden plots will not be the same in size or shape. The trick is to ensure that none of the ideas and key messaging get lost along the way for either garden.

Clearly, it is important to consider how the garden will be constructed and taken apart again; but by making this a design priority from the start, it will be easier to both build, transport and relocate thus reducing the carbon footprint of the garden whilst saving on financial costs too.

be costly in time to assemble and disassemble and will create excessive waste – plus the weather might scupper plans!

The trick is to ensure that none of the ideas and key messaging get lost along the way for either garden

By using easy to construct modular items with fixings – such as bolts or screws for wooden framework or decking – build time is reduced as there is no waiting around for concrete to set or glue to bond, for instance. Easy to take down with no waste, it will also be compact to transport, thus reducing transport emissions; whereas items that are bonded with either glue or cement will

This modular approach has another benefit in that items can be built and dismantled before the show as a practice run, thus reducing stress during build. Loose items (such as gravel or bark) are also energy efficient in that they are easy to install and remove, have no waste and can look lovely as pathways or top dressings. The above may sound basic and uninteresting, but it is fundamentally sound and can be made attractive by the introduction of beautiful materials – imagine a decking system, for example, with a wooden base from a carbon neutral supplier topped with characterful, aged reclaimed decking that tells a story in its own right and which the judges and public will adore.

This modular approach gives flexibility to the design and allows the various components to fit into both locations, given a bit of creative ingenuity – as I found with The Fauna & Flora Garden. At Chelsea, the site was a flat 12m x 10m open plot, whereas the relocation site at The Eden Project was indefinable in shape, had an existing large level change and high-level bridge to work with. Basically, all the components would fit, just in a slightly different order, and none of the messaging was lost.

The panel


Chair of the APL, Holly Youde, is a director at Urban Landscape Design in the North West and The Landscape Academy, a purpose built training centre dedicated to landscaping in the UK.


Jake founded his domestic landscaping company, The Landscaping Consultants, aged just 24. He is now a BALI board director, host of the Landscape Performance Podcast, and has delivered various award-winning gardens and outdoor spaces.


Ken White, former chairman of the APL, leads the multi-award-winning Frosts Landscape Construction, which carries out large commercial and private estate projects across the UK.


Rosemary has won numerous awards for her work, creating high-quality gardens for both domestic and commercial clients. She is a fully registered member of the SGD and sits on the board of directors at BALI.


Based in Cornwall, Jilayne Rickards is a multi-award-winning garden designer who puts sustainability and biodiversity at the heart of her designs, including her show gardens at Chelsea, both of which have been relocated to the Eden Project.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 ADVICE 20


A waterlogged lawn can be avoided with a bit of forethought. Gareth Wilson has a series of tips, depending on the cause

Whilst we are still on the subject of drainage issues and will be for the next few articles, a very common problem is waterlogged lawns, which can be caused by many factors. Here are some I see on a regular basis – and one not so often.

New builds are notorious not only for poor-quality landscaping but also for inadequate drainage

In most circumstances, patios have a fall away from the house. Therefore, it’s very common for the end fall of the patio to meet a lawn, which results in all the surface water from the patio running straight onto the lawn. This can cause a boggy mess in no time at all, especially with the volume of rain we’ve had recently. Soon after the patio has been laid, this often makes the lawn unusable. The best option to dispose of the surface water runoff is to install a brick slot drain between the lawn and the patio that is connected to aqua cells. These cells should be buried under the lawn or placed five metres from the house and two metres from a structure or boundary. I've often seen lawns that have a spongy surface taking a long time to dry out after rain.

Usually, this is caused when the old turf is removed, the ground is heavily compacted and unable to easily absorb water, resulting in a poorly draining lawn. Breaking up the existing soil with a rotavator will certainly help, as well as installing a free-draining BS 3882:2015 compliant topsoil.

New builds are notorious not only for poor-quality landscaping but also for inadequate drainage. During a recent

visit to a new build back garden, I discovered a complete bog. After digging several trial holes, I found that the soil had been reclaimed from the site itself and sold to the client as premium-grade topsoil, but it was mixed with docks, thistles, and nettles. The poor-quality soil was laid over compacted ground. In this instance, I recommended a reduced dig of 450mm and 200mm of clean limestone to be laid, followed by a layer of teram and another layer of BS 3882:2015 compliant soil.

Finally, a few years ago, I encountered a lake in place of a lawn that had appeared overnight. By pumping the water away and carrying out excavations, I discovered several very old clay land drains where, somewhere along the line, the system had failed, leaving the clients with a lake. Despite every effort to trace the blockage, we couldn't. We then took advice from the planning officer, sought planning permission, and built a water-proof chamber with a ball cock and a pump system that pumped the water into surface water drains via silt traps.


Leaving college at 17, Gareth has worked in the landscape industry since 1989. Progressing onto high-end projects, he has picked up seven RHS Gold medals. He is a member of multiple professional bodies. He provides technical and product advice to large companies, mentors and trains contractors and garden designers in landscape construction and on show gardens logistics across the UK. Gareth also provides mediation services, he is a member of the BS7533:102 committee and is an industry awards judge.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 ADVICE 22

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Greenscape Gardens’ James Gleghorn is thrilled to be returning to Chelsea, and in the year that the company marks a significant milestone

James Gleghorn has been hard to pin down for the last couple of weeks.

A soggy start to spring – with the UK experiencing a wetter March than usual, according to the Met Office – has meant he has taken every glimpse of sunshine to be out on site. “We’ve been fighting the weather for the last six to eight weeks; it’s been as bad as I can remember.”

It’s not putting a dampener on what is set to be one of the best years yet for Greenscape Gardens, though. “We’ve had a great year so far and we’re working on some really interesting projects; we’ve had a lot of fun doing it and still all have smiles on our faces. We’re now looking forward to the next phase for us,” says Gleghorn.

That would be the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the Surrey-based landscaping company is building a garden for designer Katherine Holland, who Gleghorn met at last year’s show. It was the contractor’s first time at Chelsea in 2023, building The Doorstep Library Garden in the Balcony Garden category, where Holland was also making her debut at the time.

It was a “real eye opener”, says Gleghorn. Having built an exhibit at the International Garden Festival in Chaumont-sur-Loire, France the previous year, he expected the experience to be somewhat similar. But Chelsea was “a fully-fledged building site” by the time Greenscape arrived, with the other categories having longer build times than Balcony Gardens. “We were walking around with our jaws on the floor. Then we had to screw our heads on and deliver our own garden.

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WORDS: NINA MASON 1 Carl Chaney and James Gleghorn at RHS Chelsea 2023

There was quite a lot of construction involved in last year’s garden, so there was no time to be in awe. It was an amazing experience, and we felt privileged to have been asked to do it, for a designer to put their trust in us.”

Not knowing whether the company would return for another year, Gleghorn says the team treated it as though it could be their first and last time. “We really enjoyed it and made sure that we delivered it to our maximum – and we were fortunate enough to be asked back again.”

This time, though, Greenscape will be building for the All About Plants category, where soft landscaping takes centre stage.

The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden considers the varying mobility needs of those using the space and what would be in their eyeline should they be in a chair or bed. Working on the garden with Holland has been “amazing” over the last few months. “She’s so passionate about the charity, which has rubbed off on us as a team.”

We’ve had a great year so far and we’re working on some really interesting projects; we’ve had a lot of fun doing it and still all have smiles on our faces. We’re now looking forward to the next phase for us

It’s the relocation of the garden that’s really piquing Gleghorn’s interest, though. After the show, the Grief Kind Garden will be rebuilt at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice in Bedford for patients, their families and staff.

“The Chelsea build is amazing, and of course it’s a great experience; but the relocation is not just an element or a token gesture – far from it. This garden is going to double in size, for starters, and is going to be used by people in the hospice and their loved ones for hopefully many years to come. I’ve been on a site visit with Katherine and a few people from various departments at Sue Ryder, and you can already see the impact it’s going to have.”

It’s the ideal start to what marks the 20th year of Greenscape Gardens. Managing director Carl Chaney founded the landscaping company before bringing on board his best friend, Gleghorn – who had been undertaking a product design course at Bournemouth University – to help run it. “I never thought we’d be 20 years down the line to where we are now; we didn’t plan for it to develop like it has. But once we got the ball rolling, we worked really well together.” There are no “horrible stories” of fallouts, either; they balance each other out with their strengths

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and weaknesses, says Gleghorn. “We use each other as sounding boards, more than anything else. We both have a similar amount of experience and sometimes just need the other to say, ‘you’re overthinking it’ or ‘trust yourself’.”

The duo started off building elements of a garden – be it a fence or a patio – before clients started asking for their whole gardens to be transformed. From there, garden designers started to approach them, and Greenscape began working on some “amazing projects” as a result, picking up awards along the way, such as a Pro Landscaper Small Project Big Impact Award in 2018 (now known as the Pro Landscaper Project Awards) and a National Landscape Award from the British Association of Landscape Industries in 2021. It takes on solely domestic work, something Gleghorn is eager to continue.“It’s something that’s close to our hearts, giving people gardens that they can use. Some of our favourite jobs have been for families where their kids are getting to use the garden and you can see their eyes lighting up as you’re building it wondering where they’re going to build their den or where their football pitch is going to be. We’ll always want to be close to that – never say never, but the commercial route isn’t on our radar at the moment.”

Being hands on is a constant driver for Gleghorn, who wants to remain on site for as long as possible. The size of Greenscapes’ team has fluctuated over the years, going up to three teams with around 10 employees in total before Chaney and Gleghorn decided to scale it back, followed then by the impact of covid-19. “We found ourselves managing people rather than building the gardens, and we lost a bit of what

This garden is going to double in size, for starters, and is going to be used by people in the hospice and their loved ones for hopefully many years to come

we started out wanting to do. So, when we came out of covid, we had just one team and Carl and I were back working together again, helping each other out. We now run no more than two projects at the same time, one as our main focus and then a secondary project, depending on what comes along.”

2 The Secret Sensory Garden

3 Suburbian Hideaway Garden

4 Doorstep Library Garden, designed by Gini Denison-Pender, RHS Chelsea 2023

5 The Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden (All About Plants Garden) designed by Katherine Holland and built by Greenscape Gardens

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©Katherine Holland
We’ve always tried to test ourselves and push our capabilities

He and Chaney’s close involvement, from concept to completion, is now Greenscape’s USP, says Gleghorn. “Clients get our full and undivided attention, from the start of the project, all the way through to us delivering it. There are loads of people with experience like ours, and maybe more, but that would be what separates us.”

This approach seems to be working. Gleghorn is reluctant to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary until the

end of the year, but it’s shaping up to be a year worth celebrating.

Once it has relocated the Chelsea garden to Bedford – and maybe once a holiday has been squeezed in – Gleghorn and Chaney will be straight onto a “really exciting project” for garden designer Helen Saunders by the end of the summer, as well as other work lined up.

“It’s a very busy 20th year. We’re quite excited. We didn’t have a plan – certainly

not at the start – and I don’t know what the future holds, but we have always tried to test ourselves and push our capabilities. When we entered Pro Landscaper’s awards, we weren’t sure whether we were good enough, but when we got recognised, it gave us the confidence to keep pushing, and we have now won awards from both the APL and BALI, and have gone down the show garden route.”

The plan is to continue pushing the team’s capabilities, be it trying new techniques or taking on projects that are “off the beaten path”, rather than striving for growth, though Gleghorn admits that this may come again in time. For now, Greenscape is enjoying finding its groove. “We’re in a really good place at the moment; it might have taken 20 years to get here, but we have some great work coming up and we’re excited to test ourselves.”

Chelsea will undoubtedly be a challenge but could mark one of a series of successes for Greenscape Gardens this year – and hopefully will bring with it a change in the weather, too.

6 The Secret Sensory Garden

7 'Une Graine D’Espoir’ (a seed of hope) at the Festival International Des Jardins, Chaumont

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 BUSINESS 28

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ESCAPE Enchanting



Looking for inspiration for their large country garden, the owners of a cottage that was undergoing a renovation contacted

Emily Crowley-Wroe at April House Garden Design. Their brief was fairly open, allowing CrowleyWroe to get creative with the features and layout.

She was asked to create a family-friendly space, with dining areas, leisure activities, parking, screening from the nearby lane, and planting areas near to the house that incorporated a pre-planned pergola. CrowleyWroe's response offers a formal layout near the house echoing the modern materials and geometry of the glass extension that repeats in the linking driveway area before transitioning to a wider area shaped to encourage movement around the space and towards different activities.


1 Moon gate sculpture frames entrance to meadow maze

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of project 921m2 Awards Fresh Designer Landscapes and Gardens, SGD Awards 2024
Project value £150k+
time 9

Six large square planting beds were designed to be viewed from the main glass living area featuring cottage garden plants and grasses that repeat to connect with the meadow area, whilst the raised Corten herb garden close to the kitchen repeats the strong square geometry of the formal area.

A circular meadow maze framed by a Simon Probyn Moongate sculpture incorporates a diversity of wildflowers and creates a journey with pause points to features, including a hot tub, sauna, fire pit and woodland walkway. There are waves of alternative blues and purples from May through to September with seedheads left until late February for bug life and birds.

Darren Watt Landscaping Ltd began the groundworks by preparing the meadow area in April 2022 ready to install the meadow turf in early May. The hard landscaping areas included two circular Millboard driftwood decks for the hot tub and sauna set within the meadow and connected around the circular lawn by rough sawn stepping stones alongside a new stone terrace off the guest accommodation.

Watt’s team laid the cobble linking pathway around the guest accommodation and new gravel driveway and installed a large, raised timber planting bed leading to the pergola walkway. A self-binding gravel walkway edged with cobbles then leads to a generous limestone terrace specified to match the internal flooring visible through the floor to ceiling glass extension.

Service pathways laid in cobbles flank the large formal planting beds and the redesigned Cotswold stone wall was outsourced to a local dry stone waller and repositioned to align

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with the house and planting beds and to screen the driveway.

The design pattern for the meadow area was drawn as a series of interconnecting circles. The meadow turf was firstly laid in batches to ensure it wasn’t sitting around drying out and later the turf was laid for the pathways.

By mid-June, Crowley-Wroe and Watt were ready to plant the large beds and the semi-mature and pleached trees. The main planting beds feature the clients’ preferred palette of purples, pinks and whites planted in mirror formation across the six large beds to create a repeated wave of planting, with evergreen interest from Ilex crenata balls planted at anchor points at the corners and along the pergola walkway.

Pleached trees frame the dry-stone wall to screen the driveway and semi mature multi stem trees create a mid-storey to balance out the vertical plane where large trees surround the boundary.

On the driveway, Tilia cordata ‘Winter Orange’ underplanted with sedum and molinia grasses provide year-round colour, shape and structure and

provide a dramatic greeting on the approach up the drive whilst grasses were used throughout the planting to link the different areas of the garden.

Existing materials such as logs and stone that were already on site were repurposed to create edges, seating and a fire pit surround as well as stacked for wildlife habitat. A variety of new trees were planted, and a greater diversity of pollinator and bird friendly plants were incorporated in the formal and meadow areas.

Since completion, maintenance of the garden includes coppicing hazel in the woodland boundary area and managing bramble and nettles with some areas left for wildlife. All green waste material in the garden is kept on site and composted or used to create dead hedges along the boundary and a tree audit was conducted during the design survey phase with some tree works required to the large poplars and fruit trees in the original orchard with only one tree requiring removal due to canker.

The original design incorporated a wild swimming pond, but plans were met with objections from neighbours, Crowley-Wroe amended the design to incorporate a hot tub and barrel sauna instead with a rough grass circular lawn for a new dog to play.

2 Mid-summer in the formal garden

3 Late-summer showing willow fence backdrop

4 Layered planting and striking colours by driveway

5 Repurposed materials in the fire pit area

6 Jasmine clad oak pergola walkway

7 View from woodland area towards the barrel sauna

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Owned by keen gardener and plant enthusiast, Emily Crowley-Wroe, April House Garden Design is a North Cotswolds design studio with a focus on plant rich, bold designs with a ‘lighter touch’ approach on the environment where plants, natural materials and local craftmanship harmonise.



Darren Watt Landscaping Ltd

Millboard driftwood deckboards and fascia London Stone

Driftwood decking


Building works were in progress during the design phase and a pre-planned pergola with power cables already installed had to be factored into the design which had been planned to follow the boundary rather than the house line. So, the design used planting to trick the eye and square the pergola within the design.

Timing was key for Crowley-Wroe to ensure the meadow turf was installed in spring and in batch deliveries so that turf was not left standing. But the extreme heat in June meant plants and trees had to be monitored daily to prevent drying out during the phased planting, and temporary irrigation was installed to water the pleached and semi mature trees.

Delighted with the final outcome, Crowley-Wroe successfully restored a family-friendly garden, fully utilising the space available and using a planting palette to complement its surroundings.

8 View across the formal garden from the terrace and herb garden

Photographs ©Emily Crowley-Wroe


Taj grey tumbled limestone cobble, dijon grey tumbled outdoor limestone

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Project value

£30k plus VAT Build time

6 weeks

Size of project 30m2


Principal BALI National Landscape Award winner of Domestic Garden Construction –Under £30k

TEXTURES Travelling

For their regency Brighton townhouse with a stunning extension and interior design, the client was looking to create another ‘room’ to their unique property that would match the elegant and fresh aesthetic with a subtle coastal flavour.

Having recently moved to Brighton from the countryside where they had previously owned acres of land, these clients were still keen to maintain a natural feel in their new garden whilst ensuring it was easy for them to maintain throughout their retirement. Added to this was a desire for a stronger connection between indoors and outdoors, with the enjoyment of enticing views from their glass fronted extension and lounge window. Langlea Garden




Design & Construction was eager to extend the beautiful porcelain tiled floor that the clients loved, from inside to outside, raising the levels of the garden to allow the clients to walk out and around the garden seamlessly maximising the use of the available space.

Langlea managed to source an external version of the porcelain tiles used in the house called Rock Salt Celtic Grey. In raising the levels, the edge of the house was damp proofed, and a discrete slot drain installed to maintain airflow.

A flint raised planter added to the rear boundary emulated the original garden walls and elevated the planting visually whilst also

1 Langlea’s Ebb and Flow Garden in action with water feature

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aiding its maintenance. The flint was matched as closely as possible to the original flint boundary walls; however, for budget reasons, pre-cast flint blocks were used rather than handcrafting from scratch.

The garden was pocket sized; however, the client wished to dine out, lounge, entertain friends and make the most of the sun. Wrap-around ‘floating’ benches optimise the use of the available floorspace and enable lots of people dine or lounge outside. The benches are also flexible in their use, but dining was located to the shadier side and lounging on the sunnier side. The flint planters also provide a backrest to the benches, made more comfortable with the addition of the clients' hand-made weather-proof cushions.

The planting was slightly offset back from the bench overhang to give clearance space for legs and feet, with treated timber framework used to construct the side of the lintels and then oak boards were secured to create the bench tops and fascia. The lintels were set at the correct height to enable Langlea to construct the benches in a thin profile so the planting beneath can be seen.

The vista from the glass doors of the extension through to the rear of the garden was important and Langlea agreed to create a focal point at the end, taking inspiration from the previous pond which did not function, adding both a new focal point and also the sound of running water in the garden for atmosphere. The glass fronted pond was set into the raised planter so fish and water can be seen from both inside the house and in the garden, adding in a reclaimed 1860 cast iron fountain spout pours water into the pond to add more personality to the limited space.

The raised planter was constructed first, and the proposed pond area was lined with 20mm celetox insulation. Langlea designed, off-site fabricated, and installed a marine grade stainless steel frame to support the glass front. The frame was deep enough to be bolted to the blockwork which is behind the flint face and the inside of the pond was then fiberglass. Langlea made sure that the flint would not be pointed as the lime would leach into the water and harm the fish.

Bespoke flowing hazel screening wraps around the garden with its shape synonymous with the coastal flavour. The varying heights

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overcome the differences of the boundary walls, whilst a full replacement fence is used to screen neighbouring properties and sheds. Trees have been strategically placed to buffer views of neighbouring properties and give overall balance within the garden. The unified look ‘hugs’ the garden with the ebb and flow adding energy and intrigue whilst preventing the clients from feeling ‘boxed in.’ Langlea then took the indoor to outdoor concept further by starting the hazel screening indoors along the dining room flint wall which also flows out into the garden.

The clients’ BBQ was positioned against the house in a shadier area away from where people are sitting and was set lower than the surrounding paving so that it did not interrupt the views out from the lounge.

Softer, more textural and sun-loving planting was added to the raised planter with lusher, more shade-tolerant planting hidden under the benches; this adds as much planting as possible to this pocket-sized space without impeding on useable floor space.

An amazing lighting scheme finished the project, creating a captivating atmosphere in

the evenings. Flexible dimmer systems allow the changing of two circuits to suit the mood, the strip lighting under the bench and the uplighting of the trees and illumination of the pond.

Langlea was presented with a few challenges throughout this project. The only access to the garden was down a very narrow

side passage and the dwarf wall along this boundary made access even more difficult for the Langlea team, and as a result, it was impossible to get a digger into the garden meaning that all clearance and excavation work was carried out by hand. A temporary ramp with safety rail was constructed to bridge over the wall to tools and materials to be brought through and for excavated material to be carefully removed from the garden by hand

Having worked in the area before, Langlea knew neighbours were not accommodating to construction works and the team was therefore cautious not to cause undue inconvenience to neighbours which would in turn cause stress for the client. Working hours were strictly 8am until 4.30pm and dust suppression water tanks were fitted to machinery to minimise dust impact. The site was also tidied and cleaned at the end of each working day with a deep clean before every weekend.

When work started on-site, Langlea also quickly discovered that the original eastern side boundary wall was unstable, and as this was within a conservation area, the wall had to be re-built by a flint expert to match the original. Langlea arranged and organised the flint specialist and took the relevant health and safety measures to prevent the wall falling in. It was important for the construction of the wall to happen prior to any other works happening on-site even though this slowed the progress. Similarly, the design and construction of the glass fronted pond took careful planning and design to ensure the

2 Hazel screening flows indoors to outdoors

3 The space comes alive at night

4 Connection between indoors and outdoors

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glass could be fitted within the flint blocks and the pointing flush, working with the experts to ensure the process went smoothly.

As well as the obvious, Langlea added an automatic irrigation system which was installed using minimal runs and micro jets due to the water pressure being so low at the property. The automatic timer is connected via Bluetooth to the clients phones to enable them to keep the garden watered when not at home.

Langlea believes designing a garden that perfectly satisfies a client’s needs and then constructing to a high specification is the real key to sustainability. If the garden can last a lifetime, then it has much less of an environmental impact. Any opportunities to reduce the environmental impact whilst still executing the project to satisfaction were taken, such as waste being separated into wood, plastic, and hardcore piles and collected separately for recycling. The biodiversity of the site has been improved with more planting added and a properly functioning pond, and the paving drains directly into the planting beds rather than the drain.

Langlea ensures the presence of a designer on-site all times. Francesca Sideris – landscape architect, designer, and company director – works in tandem with garden designer and construction director, Leandros Sideris to coordinate the on site team, allowing them to provide a completely

integrated approach between design and construction on site, responding to challenges quickly, efficiently, and intuitively. This way of working was reflected across this garden in the attention to detail in every aspect.

5 Tranquil space to enjoy in the day or evening Photographs ©Simon Callaghan Photography


Langlea Garden Design and Construction is a boutique, full-service practice with an integrated approach to garden design and construction. Its ethos is to create unique gardens for each individual client. The friendly and focused team of multidisciplinary professionals are bound together with a passion for detail. Executing extraordinary gardens to the highest standards, Langlea is intent on surpassing the demands of its clients.


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• The high cost of multiple versions of wildflower mixes as turf.

• The transitions between different mixes of wildflower turf are rigid, creating separate sections for flowers that thrive in shade and sun instead of a unified area.

• Lack of site understanding of different mix properties.


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It is an extensive seed mix designed to flourish in both open and shadier locations (such as woodland edges) as well as wetter areas (such as SUDS locations).

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For more information, contact Frank on 07747 863398 or email

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W: 01737 762300 Transform bare boundaries with G-WALL® Contact us for help or order on Platipus Direct Every garden has a vertical area that is perfect for populating plants. Transform your outdoor spaces into vibrant colourful vertical gardens. GRASSLANDS Grasslands Turf Farm, Ashford Road, Romney Marsh, Kent TN28 8TH T: 01797 367130 E: W: THE PROBLEM ● The high cost of multiple versions of wildflower mixes as turf. ● The transitions between different mixes of wildflower turf are rigid, creating separate sections for flowers that thrive in shade and sun instead of a unified area. ● Lack of site understanding of different mix properties. In collaboration with John Chambers Wildflower Seed, Grasslands’ BNG TURF has been carefully engineered and refined. It is an extensive seed mix designed to flourish in both open and shadier locations (such as woodland edges) as well as wetter areas (such as SUDS locations). The eventual outcome will be determined by nature and varying maintenance regimes. SEE WEBSITE FOR MIX COMPOSITION Benefit from significant cost savings and secure contracts with our competitive rate of
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GREEN footfall

Located near the Palace of Westminster UNESCO World Heritage Site, Parliament Square Gardens is an Historic England, grade II listed park and garden.

Well used throughout the year, providing a quiet space to rest for the thousands of international tourists visiting the area every week, the gardens also host a number of statues depicting prime ministers and high-profile political figures, including Winston Churchill, Millicent Fawcett, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and many others.

With the London Underground running directly below the gardens near to the surface, heat radiates into the soil above and coupled with the hot weather and hose pipe ban in the summer of 2022, the central lawn of Parliament Square Gardens had struggled to recover since.



Significant works were required to restore the lawns and planting beds, so Inscapes worked with the client to fully understand the brief of delivering a high-profile project to high environmental standards on a heritage site within a security sensitive area.

Inscapes submitted a proposal to renovate the circa 2,700m2 area. Preparatory works included the alleviation of ground compaction and removal of the top layer of organic matter, plus the introduction of an irrigation system into the ground so that water could be adequately, efficiently, and evenly distributed across the entire lawn area.

Inscapes needed to create suitable topsoil conditions and then to supply and lay turf that could withstand the foot traffic along with implementing a suitable solution to prevent

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Build time One week Size of project 3,000m2 Awards Principal BALI National Landscape Award winner for Soft Landscaping Construction (non-domestic) –Under £500K

the area from degrading under the pressure of the tube line heat below, high summer temperatures, and the high footfall.

Heras fencing was installed around the lawn area to enable the works to be carried out safely and after the installation of the turf so that it could maintained without the usual footfall. The cycle lane opposite Westminster Cathedral was also closed for a week to enable vehicle movements to be undertaken safely in what is a very busy area.

The scope of the project involved the heavy-duty removal of 50mm off the existing surface, producing approximately 200t of topsoil which was taken to a local recycling centre for reuse, and this also meant that 50mm of turf could be installed without increasing the height of the lawn above its existing levels.

However, the Inscapes team then encountered its first challenge: battling the

wettest spring since 1981. Being located on top of Westminster tube station and the Jubilee line, there were also other challenges such as strict weight restrictions on equipment used and the extremely busy

location in central London both in terms of traffic and pedestrians with large equipment. Therefore, every element had to have robust risk assessments, method statements, and lifting plans for lorries using HIABs for

removing soil, delivering fencing, and moving the irrigation container.

It was important that the lawns would root and have a period to grow in whilst the weight of the 50mm turf gave the surface stability. To overcome this, Inscapes installed a pop-up irrigation system under the lawns and as the gardens did not have a regular water or power supply, a water tank was installed. This system would be temporary, but the irrigation infrastructure was permanent, meaning that the system could be connected to a water supply in the future such as in summer months, or as required.

To finish, the topsoil would then be turned into a fine tilth using specialist cultivating and raking equipment, before the spreading of fertiliser and finally the laying of thick cut turf, designed for instant use and suitable for high impact foot traffic.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024

Inscapes also offered and eventually carried out an initial growing in maintenance programme which included watering, cutting, edging, and fertilising as required. The lawn was primarily mown with a Husqvarna robotic mower as it cuts small amounts of grass, creating a nutrient rich

micro mulch, which not only created a healthier lawn but creates no commercial waste and less noise pollution. It also freed up the time for staff on site to undertake other works involved in the overall project,

which involved the planting of 280 rootballed lavender plants.

Existing planting beds were filled with the new lavender balls that were 35x35cm in size and topped up with bark mulch.

Flowering beds surrounding the statues were reinvigorated with a variety of colourful bedding plants using British flag colours or colours that represent the person depicted by the statue.

Maintenance continues to be undertaken by an Inscapes team based in London, carrying out daily mowing and irrigation as required, with the feeding regime specified by Origin Amenity Solutions, following an independent soil sample testing, and including a site-specific nutritional report.

The project met high environmental standards to operate in central London both with noise and emissions, as well as high sustainability demands. Koroing the surface produced approximately 200t of quality

1 New lawn at Parliament Square Gardens

2 Before the installation of the new lawn

3 Gardens attracting numerous visitors

4 Husqvarna robotic mower mowing the lawn

5 Freshly planted bedding plants and flags raised

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topsoil that was taken to a local recycling centre for reuse and the Origin Amenity Solutions fertiliser used was a naturally based range with up to 100% organic content. It includes rich humates which deactivate enzymes produced by pathogens that could compromise the plants immune system and encourages root development and stimulates soil microbial activity.

The use of lavender was multi-functional, being an aesthetic plant that is drought resistant and promotes pollinators to the area, whilst the bark mulch to this area would help with minimising evaporation.

Upon completion, the lawns looked visually stunning and were extremely lush and green, and there is now a fully functional irrigation

infrastructure that can be connected into at short notice.

The attitude of the installation team was exemplary during the works, showing the due care and attention required for such a high-profile installation. Due to the difficult site to conduct works in central tourist London, the fact that Inscapes had no incidents, and no health and safety concerns throughout the entire project, is testimony to its operatives and management.

6 Lots of footfall enjoying the new lawn

7 Freshly planted bedding plants to bring colour to the Square.


Inscapes is an established sports ground engineering organisation, commercial landscaping, environmental, drainage and irrigation specialist. It has more than 20 years direct experience in delivering highly engineered sports grounds, creating new landscapes, protecting existing ones, and undertaking irrigation system maintenance and installations.



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Ground, Wind, Weed and Erosion Control

Grounds Maintenance

At the point of putting pen to paper, this still seems to be one of the wettest winter-to-spring transitions I can remember; but if a client brief, budget and site conditions allow, then a pool still has to be one of the most luxurious elements to include within a garden. Trends in pool design and construction very much depend on the site and accompanying architecture, though – as well as who holds the purse strings.

As a feature or element within a design, a pool should never be underestimated. You need to work through local and national planning constraints, structural calculations, often complex costings and the pool’s relationship with the wider landscape before designing the rest of the space around it. A pool can have a detrimental effect on a site’s schedule (even with the best planning) and costs can sometimes spiral. On the right project, a swimming pool can be an opportunity to create fun, reflection, movement and bring a hint of luxury to a space, from the obvious elements such as the tiles and copings you choose to the functionality of the cover, how it moves and the way that water is lit after dark – bringing magic to the rest of the garden. If you have a collaborative client with the right budget, then you needn’t worry.

Wet and wild

From contemporary swimming pools to ones that are more naturalistic, Matt Evans shares how to make a splash
Trends in pool design and construction very much depend on the site and accompanying architecture, though –as well as who holds the purse strings

Visually, the colour of the internal tile of a pool can completely change the appearance of the water from above, so think carefully about how you specify this. Lots of clients now seem to be opting for a more natural water colour rather than the classic dark blue lining.

From a construction perspective, think about steps and copings and the detail junction where materials join as this will be in a swimmer’s eyeline. What does the waterline do to this detail, and can you see it when you’re swimming? Traditionally, freeboard pools have been more favourable, with the waterline typically approximately

150mm below the coping stone with water being taken away from the pool via a series of skimmers. This style still works well in certain contexts, but in a more contemporary setting, I’d tend to opt for a deck level pool. In this instance, the pool has a slot drain running around the outside of it and the waterline is flush to the coping. This means there’s more continuous water movement out of the pool into the balance tank. In my opinion, deck level pools tend to look more luxurious but they do have to be fit for purpose and can be costly to detail; they bring the water up and out of the shell in the ground, linking it more with the journey around the pool at tile level where the end user is walking, sitting and entertaining.

In a chlorinated pool, I’d opt almost exclusively for a porcelain tile to avoid damage over time from chemicals. You needn’t use anything thicker than 10mm on the inside of the pool. A more budget friendly alternative could be to use a coloured liner which often complements a simple shell construction.

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Photographs ©,

There are many crane-in and finish solutions which can be more budget friendly. The recent trend for naturalistic material finishes seems to be continuing, and although a pool needs to be multipurpose and a place for fun and play, I’d say the person who has commissioned it usually wants it to be somewhere to relax and unwind. Gone are the days of chrome handrails and Roman step access but instead expansive full width steps, feature tiled walls and overflow/infinity details. We tend to stick to a typical tiled terrace surround for the pool which helps with maintenance and creating seating space for loungers and fun and games. Bullnose copings are still the preferred edge detail for comfort when you’re sat poolside or lifting yourself out of the pool away from steps.


2 Stylish Choices DIVE IN


In the last two years, 90% of the pools that have been built on projects we’ve worked on have been in direct proximity to the interior of the house pulling the pool directly toward the living space and making it a day-to-day feature for the end user.


In more rural settings this often isn’t the case, and pools are set away from the house slightly so as not to detract from the views of the wider rural landscape. In this instance, the pool usually has an accompanying pool-house or pavilion –somewhere to have friends, evening parties and enjoy those relatively rare long summer days we do sometimes get here in the UK.

The huge uptake in wild swimming and increase in environmental consciousness has seen the trend in natural swimming ponds falling into favour. Natural pools are the epitome of escapism, relaxation and being immersed in nature. They are specialist entities, and you should always engage with a specialist designer and contractor.

A natural swimming pond does exactly what it says on the tin; think less of tangling your feet in weeds and swallowing pond skimmers, but more swimming in a managed but organically filtered pool. Natural swimming ponds are often less uniform in shape and from the ground level encased in planting, meaning they sit naturally into a garden space.

Construction-wise, all swimming ponds have a shallow shelf around the outside; this is the regeneration area where oxygenating planting cleans and filters the water. The shelf is separated into areas to form access for swimmers and stop detritus from falling into the pond. A nice way to enjoy a swimming pond is from above, looking into clear water, enjoying play on light, movement of reeds and grasses. A cantilevered deck out over the water is often used and means you can immerse yourself within or above what’s essentially a living breathing entity, adding to the illusion that the site has been built around an existing natural watercourse.

A superb example of a more contemporary swimming pond was featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs (Studio Fuse’s The Water Shed). This project seamlessly blends exquisite planting, a balanced materials palette and a family-friendly pool element. I think one of the key successes of this scheme is that the pool is accessible from all sides. It is present across the space, providing a relaxing view from the kitchen, a reflective backdrop to a meandering walk through the planted areas, and a more traditional place to lounge adjacent to the outbuilding – the epitome of a focal point.


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Matt Evans is the managing director and design lead at The Garden Room Living and Landscape Studio, based in Poole, Dorset. The Garden Room is a young, creative design studio founded by partners in life and design, Matt and his wife Elle Evans. Located just a stone’s throw from the shores of Poole Harbour and the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, they operate across Dorset, London and the south of England offering garden design, project management and planting as well as specialist aftercare.

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36mm Bullnose Porcelain Steps/Copings ©Esse Landscapes


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Working hard to seamlessly blend buildings into garden designs, suppliers are evolving their portfolios to accommodate all the latest trends

Garden buildings are far from falling out of favour. Having experienced a surge in demand during the pandemic, suppliers say clients are still looking for an area of escapism within their own homes. But whilst being multifunctional has been the typical choice for clients, there’s a growing interest in creating offices or a standalone retreat.

At Sussex Crafted, garden rooms are created from scratch to suit the client’s space. It works with garden designers, sharing 3D files and plans, and collaborating on colour schemes and glazing, with the aim of making the room sit beautifully within the garden and the garden to blend into the garden room.

“It is important to incorporate a garden building early on in the design stage of a garden scheme,” says Stuart Dantzic, managing director at Caribbean Blinds UK Ltd.“This

enables the building to become seamlessly integrated and either used as a feature or focal point or to be shielded and secluded.”

Depending on the design and client’s taste, “the best garden room is the one that, once you finish, looks as if it’s been within the garden for a long time,” says Lukas Brzozowski, director of A Room in the Garden

To ensure that the building is situated as best as possible, companies such as Bakers

Garden Buildings will collect soil samples so that the team can understand the land and the varying levels. A base of either a timber frame or concrete is added, depending on the weight limits required by the building, with concrete

coming in handy when adding gym equipment or even swimming pools.

Thought should be given to colours and sizing. It needs to be "large enough for the client’s covered space needs but not overpowering based on the overall outdoor space,” says Dantzic.“Low maintenance materials such as aluminium, which is powder coated to not discolour, is always a popular choice as well as it has a colour that perfectly blends into the overall design, seamlessly integrating the building into its surroundings.”

For more contemporary gardens that use dark grey or black pergolas and patios, for instance, burnt cladding is a wonderful match, says Sussex Crafted’s designer and team leader, Sebastion Lupton.“Alternatively, if there is a more ‘natural’ feel to the garden then softer, more ‘woody’ cladding types, such as oak or cedar, can help soften the look.

Shou Sugi Ban (charred) cladding is proving to be most popular for Sussex Crafted. It’s

created through a process of burning wood, brushing it back, and oiling it to create durable and natural weatherproofing.

For Dantzic, however, it is the anthracite grey and similar darker colour frameworks that continue to be the most popular as they make the overall structure appear slimmer and ‘hide’ any dirt, providing a lower maintenance solution.“App control too for the structure elements – roof, side screens, lighting, heating, etc – is in high demand,” says Dantzic.

They’re also looking for everyday luxuries, such as Wi-Fi, TV mounts and sound systems, as well as custom designed desks to suit their working environment and a comfortable interior, for instance.“Whether lined internally with plywood for a warm ‘cabin’ feel or painted in your favourite Farrow and Ball colour, your choices will determine the feel of the room, and subsequently how much you want to be in there,” says Lupton.

Bakers Garden Buildings has found collaborating with garden designers and landscapers to be the best source of trends and is launching its new design collection, where they can work together to create a bespoke garden building for a particular project.

Garden buildings present a great solution for clients, and working with designers could spark new innovation to take this even further.

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An alternative to block paving and concrete, resin bound products provide the SuDS compliant alternative –but is it a sustainable choice for domestic projects?

Resin bound surfacing is having its moment in the limelight. As the government considers how to address local flooding partly caused by climate change, laws are being introduced that require permeable driveway and paving solutions to be installed, sparking contractors to turn their attention to resin bound options.

Its naturally highly porous properties mean that using resin bound in place of more traditional path systems limits interference with the flow of rainwater and allows plant life on the site to grow and develop much more sustainably, as well as not adding to the risk of flooding or waterlogging.

While all resin-bound products may seem similar at first glance, their quality can vary significantly based on factors such as the type of resin used, its sourcing, production methods, and considerations for end-of-life.


• Subbase preparation is key. Resin bound is only as strong as the surface it is laid onto.

• Understand the difference between UV and non-UV resin Non-UV resin will change colour over time.

• Wear protective clothing Resin can be harmful if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes, so always wear protective gloves.

• Follow mixing ratios carefully; they vary between suppliers and mix blends.

• Working with resin can be a learning process; many suppliers offer training for those that want to install it themselves.

• Choose a high-quality resin bound system and use a reputable experienced manufacturer.

Sustaina bility AND SUDS

“Some resins, like epoxy resin, are derived from petroleum-based sources, making them less sustainable,” says Yvonne Holloway, SureSet Resin’s head of marketing. “But there are also bio-based resins available,

which are derived from renewable resources such as plant oils or recycled materials.”

According to Holloway, resin can be a durable material, with resin bound systems using high quality UV stable resins to contribute to the sustainability of a project by reducing the need for frequent replacements or repairs.

For domestic projects, the use of resin bound surfacing is mostly seen in driveways and patio areas, as well as any pathways or connecting passageways. “And with the correct subbase preparation, our range of BBA-approved finishes come with up to 25-year guarantee,” says Graeme Smith, chemist at Addagrip Terraco Ltd. “With good maintenance and moderate use, they can last even longer than this too.”

All resin bound products present a much lower maintenance plan in comparison to alternative hard landscaping choices too. A resin bound surface is weed resistant but “should be regularly swept clean with a stiff broom to remove leaves and prevent moss growth and then cleaned periodically with

a pressure washer – up to 150 bar rating –to remove dirt,” says Sam Buckley, managing director at Derbyshire Specialist Aggregates. “That should be enough to leave the installation as beautiful as the day it was laid.”

A low maintenance, SuDS-compliant alternative to some standard paving choices, resin bound is arguably a sustainable solution that serves a multitude of benefits that extend beyond the garden on which it’s installed.

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t’s been six years in the making, but the Amani has been worth the wait. The new luxury louvered canopy from Belgium manufacturer Renson is taking outdoor living to the next level, with a sleek and elegant aesthetic designed to be timeless.

Adapted from its hugely popular Camargue canopy and drawing inspiration from nature, the Amani – which means ‘peace’ – has been carefully crafted to bring together ‘pure comfort, architectural design and innovative engineering’, offering stylish shade and shelter to extend the time that can be spent outdoors.

All Renson’s products are created bespoke, but the Amani offers even more choice, with a clever modular platform. Take the different accessory options available for each side; clients can choose from screens and curtains to

fixed walls and sliding or folding doors. Overhangs can be added as awnings and the placement of the columns can be chosen, along with a range of colours and finishes to suit the style of the garden.

The Amani will be launching in the UK on Main Avenue at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show through Renson’s only UK premium ambassador Garden House Design. For creative director Debs Winrow and managing director Rod Winrow – who did his first Chelsea 20 years ago – this year’s trade stand, their fourth in a row, is a chance to highlight where the canopy marketplace is heading. “We’ll be showing visitors features in a canopy that they didn’t know were possible and didn’t even know that they desired.”

Renson’s latest launch is incredibly advanced, says

Garden House Design is unveiling the Amani by Renson at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show

lighting designs and fixed walls in different materials, give designers the freedom to create a beautiful canopy that fits all the needs of a client.

It makes for a “beautiful architectural feature within a landscaped area,” which is exactly how Garden House Design will be showcasing the Amani at Chelsea, placing it seamlessly within a garden setting, surrounded by planting, a fire pit, a table for entertaining, a relaxing sofa and a living wall.

The Amani is already on

various high-end outdoor brands, Renson has created a series of outdoor experiences, with 12 pavilions each in their own idyllic setting, making for an inspiring walk in the park.

The Amani sits within ‘The Ark’, where the outdoor experience is brought indoors alongside nature-inspired meeting rooms and beneath stateof-the art offices.

Both NOA and the Amani show that the possibilities for outdoor living are still growing, and that Renson is setting the standard.

Find the Amani on the Garden House Design stand – number PW215 – at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 21-25 May

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Could Chelsea become


If this year is anything to go by, cement is fast falling out of favour on show gardens

Cement will be scarce on this year’s Chelsea showground. A whopping three quarters (74%) of gardens this year –in the Feature, Show and Sanctuary categories – will be built without the use of it, according to our calculations. On top of that, each of the All About Plants gardens will also be cement free (though that's probably less of a shock considering their focus on soft landscaping).

It’s a far cry from previous shows, even as recent as last year. Few gardens were touting cement-free credentials, and some of those that did avoid the carbonintensive product were arguably not rewarded for their efforts. The Fauna & Flora Garden, built cement free by Living Landscapes, bagged just a Silver medal; and Mark Gregory’s The Savills Garden –"the most complicated garden I’ve ever built at Chelsea,” in his own words – won a marginally better Silver Gilt.

That hasn’t stopped both contractors coming back with the same cement-free ambitions this year, with plenty of others

alongside them. And this time, there is a prize up for grabs. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a new Environmental Innovation Award “to recognise and celebrate the fantastic ways designers and contractors are embracing the need to reduce their impact on the environment,” says Sarah Poll, its head of shows development.

The award is open to all those who have undergone the Green Garden Audit, introduced this year by the RHS and Nicholsons, a multi-disciplinary landscaping company that runs a more intensive version of the audit on its own projects. All gardens in the Show and Sanctuary categories underwent the carbon assessment, and the design changes made as a result dropped carbon

RHS FlowerChelsea Show2024 Preview

emissions across the two categories by an impressive 28%.

Could these changes spark the start of Chelsea becoming a cement-free show?

If you make a categoric statement that you will not use cement, then you have to find alternatives
Tecwyn Evans, managing director, Living Landscapes

Easily, says Mark Gregory, whose company Landform Consultants is one of Chelsea’ most decorated contractors. He admits he’s poured more Portland cement than most over the years but has now pledged to never use it on a show garden again. As the RHS’ ambassador for landscaping, his choices can influence others, he says – and Gregory’s ambitious undertaking last year set the bar high. The Savills Garden was “probably one of the most complicated traditional construction gardens that’s ever been at Chelsea,” he says. “It was incredibly challenging. It would have been a lot

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simpler with a lot less risk to build it in the way I would have done probably four or five years ago. I took the most risks I’ve ever taken at Chelsea last year.”

But he says nothing “groundbreaking” was used. “It was old technology and old materials coming to the fore.” The backing walls, for instance, were built using ‘strocks’, natural building blocks made from clay and straw. This year, though, Gregory will be using an alternative. “Strocks are great when it’s dry; but as soon as it starts to rain, they dissolve, and that was one of the challenges with the building last year. I don’t think people realise the scale of the endeavour of that garden. So, we’re using hempcrete blocks made from hemp and lime from HG Matthews that won’t dissolve and are still very sustainable. It's not carbon free – show gardens never are. But it is carbon reduced.”

For Gregory, it’s about leaving a lighter footprint. Cement accounts for a sizeable 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to think tank Chatham House, but there are more sustainable substitutes. “Lime still produces carbon but is a lot less destructive to the environment than cement and is better for building show gardens, for temporary installations –it’s an amazing material.”

“We’ll then attach a metal aluminium rail, which I use for this purpose at shows, to those ground screws, and build the studwork for the wall, which is made from Savolit Plus, a wood wool board. We’re using that instead of a cement board or sheet of ply, and applying a clay render, which is again cement free.”

When we’re building for a show that is temporary, we should be doing it as sustainably as possible
Ben Wiggins, managing director, Landesigns

Now he’s proven to himself what’s possible, Gregory is determined to avoid using cement on show gardens in the future, and the same goes for Tecwyn Evans, managing director of Living Landscapes, which is building The Freedom from Torture Garden at this year’s Chelsea.

“If you make a categoric statement that you will not use cement, then you have to find alternatives,” says Evans. “If you need a strong base, and we do for support this year, then you find different ways of doing it, to the point where we haven’t used or even considered the use of cement.”

Where The Freedom from Torture Garden has two long walls – one at 12m, the other at 10m – Living Landscapes will be using ground screws for their structural integrity.

There’s a large bread oven being installed in a sunken seating area which needs a strong subbase to support it. Evans is using compacted type one which can be bagged up and reused. The bread oven will sit on a thick piece of limestone to provide stability for the duration of the show. All the cement alternatives are natural materials that have been sourced from the UK and can be reused within either the relocated garden or another of Living Landscapes’ projects.

There’s little reason for Chelsea to not become cement free, says Evans –though he admits

this may deter some designers and contractors from exhibiting. But it’s also a potential pull. Having created cement-free show gardens at both Chelsea and Hampton Court last year, Evans was approached by numerous designers for this year and next year’s shows.“The designers and architects contacting me are really interested in cement free builds and are bringing their skills and material knowledge to me to play around with, so I’m learning new things from them. It’s turned into a positive experience, having started that last year.”

Evans isn’t the only one embracing the challenge. Hertfordshire-based contractor Landesigns was approached to build the World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden by Italian designer Giulio Giorgi, who was adamant that the garden should be as sustainable as possible, with no plastic, no metals, and no concrete.

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©RHS/Neil Hepworth

“It was quite refreshing compared to our normal way of building gardens,” says managing director Ben Wiggins. “This is the first time that we’ve built a garden that’s got structures in for retaining where we’re not using cement. Normally, if we’re building a retaining wall in a garden, we’d use rebar and concrete. So, this is a bit experimental for us. I’m nervous, if I’m honest, because we’ve never done it before.”

risk: building something dry in the sunshine but all of a sudden, midway through Chelsea, we have a couple days of torrential rain, and it collapses. That would be awful.”

The decision on cement and cement replacement products should also have the end waste presumption taken into consideration as well

To take away some of the uncertainty, Wiggins has built a mockup of the garden at the company’s site to test its robustness. “We’re using timber stakes, which are all FSC certified, to go through blocks to hold the structures in place. We wanted to put it through some rain to see how it performed, because that’s the biggest

Tecwyn Evans, managing director, Living Landscapes

So far, so good, though; the structure has remained standing. Around the stakes inside the blocks, a lightweight clay aggregate called Leca is being used to fill the void but also to avoid adding too much weight to the wall. “We’re using that same material to build up the ground level in the taller planters instead of filling it with heavy soil. Leca is free draining, fills out volume, is very lightweight and serves its purpose.”

Instead of a concrete strip foundation with rebar for the raised beds, Landesigns is

putting down a type one base with a two to six millimetre grit on the top. “The blocks need to sit on a firm surface; if the soil sinks, it will want to fall over. So, our alternative to a concrete strip foundation is a bit like laying a block pave drive, with type one and grit, to give us a level to work from.”

Whilst cement-free concrete products such as Cemfree proved popular at last year’s show – on The Savills Garden, for instance, and on Harris Bugg Studio’s Horatio’s Garden – Wiggins was reluctant to use them. “It’s something we should be mindful of because, with the best will in the world, where people are pouring concrete foundations and laying paving, whilst that material can be recycled, you’re still bringing in trucks to take it away and plants are going to be crushed. Those crushers run on diesel so are emitting fumes. So, although concrete can be recycled, it still produces emissions to do so. When we’re building for a show that is temporary, we should be doing it as sustainably as possible.”

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©RHS/Sarah Cuttle

Evans is also avoiding Cemfree at Chelsea due to the waste that’s produced. “It still needs breaking out and becomes a waste product. It could be recycled, but it’s unlikely that it would be, and you’re still generating a product that needs to be managed.” It’s an “easy default” and an unnecessary one for a show that lasts just one week, he says. “Do you really need to have something that strong and that structurally capable that you have to use something that sets that hard? If you don't use any cement at all, you can use fixings that can be removed or use a compacted base that can be lifted and then reused immediately rather than recycled. You’re minimising the impact you have on the environment for your build and the subsequent strip out. The decision on cement and cement replacement products should also have the end waste presumption taken into consideration as well.”

This approach could drastically change the gardens created at Chelsea, though. Gregory, for instance, says he wouldn’t take on a garden as elaborate as The Savills Garden again without using cement – “that’s a one off for me.”

contractors who could deliver the job on time, on budget, under the high-pressure situation of Chelsea, where it’s so busy. So, designers need to make sure they have the right contractor.”

As an industry, we need to adapt. Contractors really need to get behind the designers and be brave enough to try these alternatives
Mark Gregory, managing director, Landform Consultants

There are limitations to building without cement, says Wiggins. “To do a completely cement-free show, it would have to be scaled back and would look a lot less realistic. There would be a lot more soft landscaping." Designers would also need to bring in contractors far earlier. “If you want to build a sustainable garden, the contractor has got to be involved from the beginning... If there are people designing now for 2025, and they don’t speak to a contractor for another six months, then at that point the design is finalised and it’s hard to discuss what can be done differently to build without cement. The designer needs to talk to the contractor quite early in the process to see what is and isn't achievable.”

This “collaboration” deserves recognition too, adds Wiggins. It takes a considerable amount of time to research and demo the alternatives to cement, and not everyone is capable. “There are not loads of

It’s down to the contractors to take a few risks too, says Gregory. “As an industry, we need to adapt. Contractors really need to get behind the designers and be brave enough to try these alternatives. There’s a fear of dealing with something on an international world class show that fails and of stepping out your comfort zone. But I stepped out of mine with the most complicated show garden I’ve ever built. The risk to my business, to my reputation, was significant. It could have easily failed. But I’m glad I did it. It’s about being prepared

to take risks and lead by example.” The industry then needs to share its findings and experiences, he adds.

“The innovation that’s coming is exciting. It will be the greenest Chelsea yet on the build side, but I think we can go a lot further. Quite a few people are still using cement, and that’s fine –they're on a journey too...But these changes are here to stay, and they will grow over the next few years as people get more confident and research new materials. The last couple of years have been a game changer. I think the industry has woken up to it, me included. It’s a learning curve and we’ve got to support each other on it.”

A quarter of gardens might still be using cement at this year’s show, but should the substitutes prove successful, that number could drop even further by 2025, and a cement-free Chelsea could be on the cards sooner than we think.

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NEXT GENERATIONInspired by the

Whilst horticulture remains limited within the school curriculum, Harry Holding highlights the need for change with the first show garden designed by children at Chelsea


Harry Holding


Horticulture might not be part of the national curriculum, but that hasn’t stopped Sulivan Primary School from including it in its teachings for the last three decades. From introducing outside classrooms, gardening clubs, and growing its own food, the Fulham based school has been committed to outdoor learning and exposing pupils to the world of horticulture from a young age since the early 90s, when its wild garden was designed and built with the help of children and parents in the local community. Today, it offers the opportunity for children to interact with the natural environment, beyond what

might be expected in an inner-city school.

RHS FlowerChelsea Show2024 Preview

Garden designer Harry Holding is a firm believer that this should be the norm, though. “Horticulture is an industry that can not only help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change but will help to bridge that gap between other industries and societies that don't necessarily understand the natural world and its processes. It’s mad to think that it’s not being taught as a set standard in this country.”

Privileged to have been exposed to gardening by his family as a child, Holding has since worked in the industry in some form or another, from garden centres to starting his own gardening business in Australia, before returning to the UK in 2016 and opening his first design studio.

“For me, the reason why I'm in this industry is because I firmly believe that we have an impact and we can make a difference,” says Holding. “The work we do in this industry can have positive environmental and social impacts almost immediately.”

Not every child is going to have the same opportunity as Holding growing up, though. Whilst some might be fortunate enough to have their own garden or live near parks, others might not be so lucky. That’s why it’s so

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©Clive Nichols

important for schools to play their part, believes Holding.“Something that most children have in common is the fact that they go through the education system, so if we can provide access to green spaces through school gardens and actually bringing it into the curriculum, we can start to see the whole host of benefits that horticulture has to offer.”

So, Holding has teamed up with Sulivan Primary School to take on the first garden made for children, designed by children, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, aptly named the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden.

Holding has worked closely with the children through several workshops, combining their “endless ideas and fantasies” into a functioning show garden.“At Harry Holding Studio, we’ve done quite a lot of work with schools over the years and that's definitely been something that we're passionate about, really trying to have a positive impact on the next generation.” Seeing the work that Sulivan continues to do with its students, Holding knew it was the perfect fit for the project.“It’s been really inspirational to work with them and see their commitment.”

Hosting eight workshops with the school, with the first one being the last day of the school term in July 2023, and the final one to be held at Chelsea during the build, Holding is keen to give the students the opportunity to plant the finishing touches themselves, on the Saturday before opening.

“It kind of opened up their eyes to not just planting seeds and gardening, but the world of design, which is not really something that you get exposed to at school. So, they've loved it, and it has been really great fun for all of us.”

Of course, giving the children the opportunity to design comes with its

challenges for the person whose job is to bring them to life.

Holding developed a process whereby the children designed their “dream garden” in pairs and small groups, really looking into the idea of what that dream garden means to them. Incorporating all these designs together, Holding was then able to develop a brief, with a list of key features and criteria for the final design,“and that's helped to influence the kind of features that are going into the garden. We've had a back-and-forth collaborative approach and been able to truly engage them in a really meaningful way.”

Working with children is about striking that balance, according to Holding. “Children are not being held back by the industry standard way of doing things or bogged down by society or

the world's problems; instead, they have complete freedom.”

But with this freedom, inevitably, comes lots of wacky ideas,“I think crocodiles were a request, so things aren't always going to make it in there!”

Combining the creative challenges from the class with the build aspect of Chelsea, Holding is battling the logistics of the design. Hoping to explore different styles of habitat from woodland and meadow to wetland, to make this fun, educational project a reality, Holding is bringing additional diversity in the textures and planting to home in on the magical feel of a space that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Horticulture is an industry that can not only help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change but will help to bridge that gap between other industries and societies that don't necessarily understand the natural world and its processes

“Set within a pool of water, there’s going to be semi subterranean den, and trying to design and build that offsite beforehand and ensure that it's going to work, not have any leaks and will be watertight, is certainly a bit of a head scratcher,” says Holding. Working with children clearly has its trials and tribulations, but for Holding, the enthusiasm and empowerment that these opportunities present to children far outweighs the obstacles.

Whilst the RHS No Adults Allowed Garden is about celebrating the joy of the natural world, and of gardening and outside space, for Holding, it's also about highlighting the importance of access to nature for children, “and the fact that we really need to be providing this as a standard practice, as every child has a fundamental right to enjoy our natural world.”

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OCTAVIA HILL Channelling

Ann-Marie Powell is returning to Main Avenue with a garden that celebrates the work of an iconic National Trust founder

It might be somewhat hard to believe, but Ann-Marie Powell’s show garden this year will mark her debut with a large garden on Main Avenue. The garden designer has appeared at Chelsea and other RHS shows, scooping up various awards throughout her career; but this year she will be making her debut on the highly-coveted part of the Chelsea showground – and she’s not wasting the opportunity.

The Octavia Hill Garden will be a “big, green, horticultural soapbox” for the vivacious designer, she says. “Chelsea is the best place to talk about horticulture, gardening, plants and access to green space, and it’s one of the last big career ticks that I wanted to do, to have a large garden on Main Avenue. It’s almost happened so many times, and I’m so grateful that it’s finally happening.”

We are losing our wildlife at a worse rate than I even realised myself before I started researching this garden last year –it’s staggering

Powell was the first choice for Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, which is supporting

RHS FlowerChelsea Show 2024 Preview

the show garden alongside Blue Diamond Garden Centres. He’d worked with her as programme director for RHS Hilltop at Wisley, where Powell designed the World Food Garden and the Wildlife Garden.

For the last year and a half, the National Trust and Blue Diamond have been collaborating on a series of projects, including an exclusive range stocked on the garden retailer’s shelves. Blue Diamond then approached the National Trust with an idea for a show garden dedicated to one of the founders of the trust, Octavia Hill (1838-1912).

Jasper told those at the Garden Press Event earlier this year that Hill believed everybody needed access to nature and beauty in their life and the ability to actually go into gardens. He added that all the work that the National Trust undertakes can be traced back to Hill and her fellow founders.

Since she met with the National Trust and Blue Diamond back in October 2022 to learn more about the “phenomenal woman” ahead of designing the garden, Powell is a self-described “fan girl” of Hill.

“She was a social activist in Victorian Britain, who really advocated safeguarding and creating green spaces for those who lived in the most deprived areas of cities, and also in the countryside as well. So, I started thinking, what would she want to do if she were alive today?”

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Ann-Marie Powell ©RHS/Oliver Dixon ©Ann-Marie Powell Gardens

A lack of accessible green space remains an issue more than 100 years later. A staggering 6.1 million people in Britain live more than a 10-minute walk from a park or green space, found Fields in Trust's Green Space Index last year – and London is a prime example of how this can vary from borough to borough. Whilst the population size might be similar across

Islington and Harrow, the amount of green space per person is not, with Harrow boasting 36sqm whilst Islington has a meagre seven.

With this in mind, Powell wanted to design a green space on a conceptual inner city brownfield site “that would really make a difference in an urban community,” just as Hill used to do, starting with the Red Cross Garden, which was built between buildings in Southwark in the late 1800s.

have declined, and nearly one in six (16%) species are threatened with extinction in Britain.

The Octavia Hill Garden will use around 3,600 peat-free grown, native and non-native species such as Celtis sinensis and Clematis vitalba to create a biodiverse garden, with all plants being supplied by Hortus Loci.

“There will be a few pioneer plants, as we’re calling them, which are really good for wildlife. But the majority of the planting will be ebullient, exuberant, bold, pollinator-attracting plants.”

I didn't want her to be just an historical figure, someone in the past, but instead someone who is relevant today

Powell will be channeling her “inner Octavia” at Chelsea, and the garden will, unsurprisingly, be accessible to all. “We wanted to make sure that there was an experience for everyone, whether you’re able bodied or not, or lugging around a buggy…The garden will have an experience with a series of levels for people to access. If you are

visually impaired or blind, there’s an aural experience that’s being designed by sound artist Justin Wiggan.”

As a patron of the charity Greenfingers, Powell has worked on children’s hospice gardens for more than a decade. Her studio also works with organisations on projects where wheelchair access is a necessity. So, the entire garden at Chelsea is DDA compliant, meaning that slopes are approved for wheelchair use.

“But it is almost like an adventure garden; it's not completely flat without any texture or change. The garden slopes up to the upper level of the platform, and then comes all the way down and slopes in, so you’re on a circuit, passing between ‘open air sitting rooms’, which is another key idea of Octavia’s – each room has its own atmosphere.”

On top of this, Powell is making sure the show garden is as nature rich as possible. “In the UK, we are losing our wildlife at a worse rate than I even realised myself before I started researching this garden last year – it’s staggering.”

She’s not wrong, if last year’s State of Nature report is anything to go by. Since 1970, nearly a fifth (19%) of UK species that it monitors

Gold-medal winning contractor The Landscaping Consultants will be building the show garden, which is no mean feat. Powell has worked with architect Giles Jollands to design a structure “that is completely integrated into the garden – they have a symbiotic relationship. The garden can’t exist without the structure and the structure can’t exist without the garden.” The self-sustaining structure, which will not be using concrete, has two layers, with a wildlife observation platform at the top and, on the lower layer, a wildlife pond and a canopy of plants – or what Powell is calling a “plant cathedral”. There will also be a walk-through stream and the retaining walls to the platform will be formed with thatch, “a traditional craft that Octavia would have approved of, and championing the craftsmanship that still lives in existence but which we're also losing at a rate of decline.”

Once the last visitor leaves the Chelsea showground, the garden will be relocated to the Blue Diamond-owned Bridgemere Show Gardens in Nantwich, Cheshire –an RHS partner garden – where Hill’s legacy will continue to be celebrated.

“We’re working hard to deliver a garden that I hope visitors will enjoy and will really pay testament to a fabulous woman that we should all know more about. I didn't want her to be just an historical figure, someone in the past, but instead someone who is relevant today. So, that's why we designed this, because I think if she was alive, that's what she'd be doing now.” It might have taken a while to check her first large Main Avenue garden off her bucket list, but the opportunity seems to have been well worth the wait.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 63
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Every year over 16,000 people die from bowel cancer in the UK and over a million suffer from bowel related diseases. Bowel Research UK is funding life-changing research into bowel cancer and the microbiome, the collection of all microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses that naturally live inside us.

With this research we can understand and highlight the vital role our microbiome plays in our digestive system, our immune system, and practically all aspects of our health.

Drawing inspiration from medical and botanical research – exploring the connection between a healthy landscape, a healthy gut, and a healthy mind – The Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show aims to inspire people to ‘rewild’ their diets and gardens and reconsider their relationship with the land. It tells the story that if we hope to be healthy, we must care for the land, plants, and wildlife on which we depend.


Designed by Sid Hill and Chris Hull – both winners of Pro Landscaper’s 30 Under 30: The Next Generation Award – the garden was inspired by the current research BRUK funds on the microbiome, which Hill says he was already fascinated by and was fermenting a variety of food himself whilst deep in the research.

“Naturally, we thought this was an important topic and developed the concept of a garden for the microbiome,” says Hill.“The design is informed by ancient cultures that have tended diverse and beautiful meadows to forage nutritional food crops.” This led to the inclusion of an edible meadow to offer a harvest that improves both physical and mental health, using the gut microbiome as a catalyst.

At the beginning, Hill was contacted by Bowel Research UK because of his focus on creating ecological landscapes that cultivate diverse and nutritional foods and support the gut microbiome. “We got off to a good start and

Aiming to inspire palates and raise awareness for wellbeing, The Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden is making its way to Chelsea


I felt this was a charity I could get behind to tell their story using the medium of a garden.”

Soon Hill realised that he would need support to make this project a reality, though, and so quickly teamed up with Hull to bring their visions to life.

Both coming from a background in gardening and land-based work, their roots are grounded in practical horticulture.

Whilst Hill specialises in ecological planting design, consultancy, and garden art, Hull’s business has been working on bespoke timber, working with clients on larger estates.

prebuilding their garden before taking it “on holiday to Chelsea”, as following the show, the Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden will settle in its permanent home at the Apricot Centre in Dartington, Devon, “cultivating sustainability in land, lives, and livelihoods.”

Sharing many similar values with the Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden, the centre aims to create and run a sustainable and diverse farm, wellbeing service and business which recognises the fundamental link between the wellbeing of food and people.

These are the ingredients gardening offers us and subsequently boosts our microbiome

“The most important things we can do for our microbiome are to eat diverse plants, spend time in nature and exercise. These are the ingredients gardening offers us and subsequently boosts our microbiome,” says Hull.

“It is a surprisingly lengthy process to create a garden at Chelsea. So far, we are over 18 months into planning the garden and we still have a lot to do before the show,” says Hull. They’re now at the “exciting stage” of

Wanting to inspire the public to have a go at rewilding their diets, their gardens, and also reconsider their relationship with the land, Hill and Hull hope their Chelsea garden will do exactly that.

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Jon and James

Wheatley will be commemorating six decades of the RHS Britain in Bloom competition at this year’s Chelsea


RHS FlowerChelsea Show 2024 Preview


In the middle of the countryside, between Bath, Bristol, and Wells, is an estate that has been growing and supplying plants since the second world war. Now, it’s home to multi-awardwinning design and build company, Stonebarn Landscapes, which has become known for its RHS Gold medal standard gardens and exhibits from across the last 10 years.

Owner Jon Wheatley was brought up surrounded by a love for planting and has been working in horticulture his entire life, later becoming both an RHS Council member and chairman of RHS Southwest in Bloom.

For him, the Britain in Bloom community gardening competition is “about people in communities that are trying to make a difference by the use of plants and sustainable gardening practices. It has changed a lot over the years. Where it used to be about bedding plants, it's now aiming much more at the community feel and the environment itself.”

There are still beautiful flowers to inspire, but there’s also purposeful planting, the sharing of skills and a range of positive impacts

Starting in the 1960s, in the height of the ‘flower power’ era, councils across the UK competed to attract tourists. Over the years the campaign has evolved to the present day where groups are motivated to strengthen their communities, protect, and enhance the environment, and support people’s health and wellbeing.

There are still beautiful flowers to inspire, but there’s also purposeful planting, the sharing of skills and a range of positive impacts. The all-embracing campaign celebrates the landscape in both cities and the countryside, recognising accessible communal green spaces and those that support local

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 67

wildlife. It has been managed by the RHS since 2002, in partnership with 17 regions and nations, covering England, Scotland, Wales, Ulster, and the Channel Islands, and involving 3,000 groups and hundreds of thousands of volunteers each year.

It’s the fact that this organisation is solely made from volunteers that makes it special to Wheatley: “I’ve been a national judge for Britain in Bloom for over 20 years, but probably the most impressive thing that I’ve come across is the incredibly committed people I’ve met during that time, especially all of the people that are making a real difference to the country.”

With the help of these dedicated people, Wheatley is working towards creating the Friendship Garden for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the competition.

“It's about sustainability and showing what can be done; celebrating plants, celebrating people, and celebrating the friendships that people get from communities.”

Britain in Bloom volunteers...

... taking part in their community...

It's about sustainability and showing what can be done; celebrating plants, celebrating people, and celebrating the friendships that people get from communities

The garden has been designed by Wheatley’s son, James who runs New

Zealand based company Landform (no connection to Landform Consultants) and prides himself on creating unique and individual outdoor spaces. His design aims to create a space where people can come together to appreciate the taste, scent, sounds, and visual impact of the outdoors. The planting demonstrates the value of plants grown in Britain with peat-free compost and minimal use of chemicals, combined with the use of wildflower plantings and beehives to increase biodiversity. Newcastle-under-Lyme

Visitors will be encouraged to make new connections at a ‘friendship bench’ and to stop and ‘smell the flowers’. Britain in Bloom has brought communities together for the last six decades, and father and son duo Jon and James Wheatley are determined to continue doing exactly that with their garden at Chelsea.

Britain in Bloom – how did it start?

Bloom started in 1964 when Roy Hay, editor of the Gardeners Chronicle, went on holiday to France where President de Gaulle had started a competition called ‘Fleurissement de France’ (now Villes et Villages Fleuris) with prizes for the towns with the best floral displays.

The competition had an impact on tourism and Hay wondered if a similar scheme could be introduced in Britain.

He approached the British Tourist Authority (BTA) and, together with Len Lickorish, then director general of the BTA, set up a committee to run a British version. And so, Britain in Bloom was born. It was piloted by the British Tourist Authority in 1963 and went national in 1964.

Britain in Bloom was then organised by the Keep Britain Tidy Group until 2001 when the RHS took over. In addition to the RHS, there are 17 regions and nations running the campaign in their local areas and together they form the Bloom Federation.

In the main campaign, communities start their Bloom journey within their respective regions and nations, and from there have the opportunity to be put forward to the Britain in Bloom UK

Finals. Bloom centres round three pillars of activity: horticulture, environment, and community.

The RHS leads on setting the criteria and standards for participation, which reflect the RHS’ own sustainability strategy and, each spring, groups apply to take part.

In the summer, an expert judge or assessor visits each community, assesses them against the criteria, and provides feedback on their work. Each group receives a certificate celebrating their achievements, usually at an awards event, in the autumn.

Now, the RHS is working with the Bloom Federation to develop the programme in response to the participating groups' and volunteers' needs.

“The programme already helps the RHS meet new and more diverse audiences, but we want to reach and welcome an even wider range of people,” says project manager of Britain in Bloom, Kay Clark.

To do this, Bloom will explore working with partners and developing opportunities to work in more urban areas

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 68
Photographs on this page ©RHS/Jon Parker Lee

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2024 categories

• Design under £50,000

• Design £50,000 - £100,000

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• Build £50,000 - £100,000

• Design and Build under £50,000

• Design and Build £50,000 - £100,000

• Planting Design under £25,000

• Outdoor Lighting Project under £35,000

• Special Feature under £50,000

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• Sustainable Garden under £50,000

• Temporary Installation under £50,000

• Community Green Space under £100,000


TheRHSNoAdults Allowed Garden


Designer Harry Holding

Contractor Landscape Associates

Plant supplier Hortus Loci

Relocation Sulivan Primary School, Fulham

Following the success of his School Food Matters garden at last year’s Chelsea – which won the People’s Choice Award in its category – Harry Holding returns with the show’s first garden designed by children, for children. Pupils from Sulivan school in Fulham have helped to create the concept through a series of workshops with Holding, who was named one of Pro Landscaper’s 30

Under 30: The Next Generation winners in 2020. The idea for the garden arose after the RHS held its first children’s picnic last year, which the Duchess of Cambridge attended alongside 100 students.


This year’s unjudged gardens highlight various themes for the RHS, from school gardening to sustainability

RHS Britain in Bloom 60th

Anniversary: The Friendship Garden

Designer Jon and James Wheatley


Stonebarn Landscapes Plant supplier

Stonebarn Landscapes and Majestic Trees

Relocation Trees and friendship benches will be reused at Hampton Court, with the friendship benches going on to be given to local communities and the other plants going to various community groups


To commemorate six decades of community gardening competition

RHS Britain in Bloom, father and son duo Jon and James Wheatley have designed a garden that they hope will inspire visitors to create their own in their local community. A ‘friendship bench’ is one of the central features of this accessible space, designed to highlight one of the social benefits of gardening with others. All plants have been grown without the use of peat or pesticides, which is in line with RHS Britain in Bloom competition guidelines.

RHS Chelsea Repurposed

Designer Darryl Moore

Contractor Gardenlink

Most of the materials being used in Darryl Moore’s show garden will not be making their Chelsea debut. From the Corten steel columns that once appeared on Andy Sturgeon’s The Daily Telegraph Garden in 2010, to the Islamicinspired fountain found in 2016 on Tom Massey’s Lemon Tree Trust Garden, there will be a range of products taken from previous Chelsea exhibits – something which Moore has become somewhat renowned for, in his sustainable approach to landscape design. On top of this, crushed concrete and sand salvaged from demolished buildings will be used for planting.

Plant supplier Palmstead, Bernard’s Nurseries, Hortus Loci

Relocation Plans are underway for the garden to be relocated in Euston

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 71
Exquisite joinery for distinctive gardens Design | Craft | Install Visit the design studio, workshop & showroom 01255 688 361 The Garden Trellis Company Ltd. 355A Old Road, Clacton-On-Sea, Essex, C015 3RQ. Credit: Butter Wakefield Garden Design / Walpole Photography


Chelsea Gold medallist

Robert Myers has put nature at the heart of this garden in a bid to highlight how urban green spaces can benefit both city dwellers and wildlife. It forms part of a £20m restoration project at St James’s church in Picadilly, London, where the garden will be relocated after the show.

Key features include ‘climate-resilient’ trees and a circular counselling hut, designed by Ivan Morison.


Designer Robert Myers

Contractor Stewart

Landscape Construction

Sponsor Project Giving Back, St James’ Piccadilly

Plant supplier

Deepdale, Hortus Loci

Relocation St James’s Piccadilly

Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden

Designer Ula Maria

Contractor Crocus

Sponsor Project Giving Back, Muscular Dystrophy UK

Plant supplier Kelway, Deepdale Relocation The public gardens of the Institute of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine, Oxford

Inspired by the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, more than three quarters of Ula Maria’s garden will be planted areas. Many of the plants chosen will have a rich, green foliage, accompanied by more than 40 trees to create the desired effect of a comforting space for those with a condition that weakens their muscles. Precast concrete footings will form the foundation of the central hub with sculptural flint walls. These footings have been reused at Chelsea since 2017, the same year Maria won the RHS Young Designer of the Year competition at Tatton.

Stroke Association’s Garden for Recovery

Designer Miria Harris

Contractor Landform Consultants Ltd


Sponsor Project Giving Back, Stroke Association

Plant supplier Kelways, Deepdale

Relocation The Stroke Unit at Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds

Stroke survivor Miria Harris has used her own experience to help space this Garden for Recovery, where fellow survivors could be supported physically and mentally following a stroke. In her Chelsea debut, Harris has incorporated a wildlife pond and stream, accessible paths that gently curve around the garden, and seating created by furniture designer Olivia Gonsalves. Shrubs, perennials and annuals provide soft, colourful planting around the central area of the garden.

St James’s Piccadilly: Imagine the World to be Different Chelsea regulars as well as first timers will be showcasing the best of UK horticulture

Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden

Designer Matthew Childs

Contractor Yoreland Design Ltd

Set in North Wales, Childs’ garden is inspired by the slate landscapes found there, with granite boulders scattered throughout and planting reflecting the re-colonisation of plants in the redundant slate mines. A series of slate steppingstones will take visitors over the water to a secluded terrace, a space to be enjoyed as it represents the Terrence Higgins Trust’s vision of there being no new cases of HIV in the UK by 2030.

Sponsor Project Giving Back, The Terrence Higgins Trust Plant supplier Hortus Loci, Beth Chatto Relocation Area outside Croydon University Hospital’s sexual health clinic

Main Avenue

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The National Autistic Society Garden

Designer Sophie Parmenter and Dido Milne

Contractor Landform Consultants Ltd

Sponsor Project Giving Back, The National Autistic Society Plant supplier Kelways, Kevock Garden Plants, Edulis, Beth Chatto’s Nursery, Incredible Vegetables, Hare Spring Cottage Plants, Van Arnhem Nursery, Craigieburn Gardens, Deepdale Trees, Majestic Trees, Creepers Nursery

Relocation A National Autistic Society supported living site at Catrine Bank, Scotland

Garden designer Sophie Parmenter and architect

Dido Milne have come together to create a garden that aims to capture how an autistic person might experience the world on a day-to-day basis. It highlights how ‘masking’ – where an autistic person might try to hide characteristics – can be draining, with cork ‘masks’ surrounding a central sanctuary.

Designer Tom Stuart-Smith

Contractor Crocus

Sponsor Project Giving Back, The National Garden Scheme

Plant supplier Crocus and National Garden Scheme garden owners

Relocation A new

Maggie’s Centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge

The National Garden Scheme Garden

After a five-year hiatus from Chelsea, Tom Stuart-Smith returns to the show with a garden that celebrates what has been nearly a century of the National Garden Scheme opening private gardens to the public. Owners of gardens within the scheme have even contributed plants, on top of what will be a collection of drought tolerant woodland plants. They form a therapeutic garden for hospital patients that will be built by Crocus, last year’s Best Construction Award (Show Garden) winner, in what the contractor has announced will be its final year at Chelsea.

The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust

Designer Ann-Marie Powell Contractor The Landscaping Consultants

Sponsor Blue Diamond, National Trust Plant supplier Hortus Loci, Lincolnshire Pond Plants, Rymer Trees Relocation Bridgemere Show Gardens, Nantwich

National Trust co-founder Octavia Hill is being invoked for Ann-Marie Powell’s Main Avenue debut, which will celebrate the female activist and her work in the 19th Century to improve urban housing and protect green spaces. Laid out in a series of ‘outdoor sitting rooms’ – a nod to Hill’s own approach – The Octavia Hill Garden will be as accessible and sustainable as possible, with cement use being minimised and innovative installation methods being carried out to ensure easy reconstruction when it is relocated. National Trust apprentices will be helping to build the garden alongside those from Blue Diamond and award-winning contractor The Landscaping Consultants.

Designer Tom Massey and Je Ahn Contractor Landscape Associates

After first collaborating on a project for the London Design Festival 2020, garden designer Tom Massey and architect Je Ahn will be working together once more to highlight the importance of sustainable water management. It will be Ahn’s Chelsea debut, though Massey has appeared at the show three times previously, scooping a Gold medal and a People’s Choice award in 2021.

Landscape Associates, which won the Best Construction Award (Sanctuary Garden) last year, will be building the garden using screw piles instead of cement.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 74
Sponsor Project Giving Back, WaterAid Plant supplier Hortus Loci Relocation TBC


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GARDENS Sanctuary

The health and wellbeing benefits of nature are being celebrated

Flood Re: The Flood Resilient Garden

Flooding now affects one in four homes in the UK, according to UK Climate Risk – and that’s only set to rise with climate change.

Designer Naomi Slade and Ed Barsley Contractor Belderbos Landscapes, in association with Water Artisans Sponsor Flood Re Plant supplier Hortus Loci, RSPB Haweswater, Plants for Ponds Relocation HR Wallingford, Oxfordshire

Garden designer Naomi Slade and Ed Barsley, an expert in environmental design, have incorporated solutions for dealing with extreme weather events and managing water into The Flood Resilient Garden. These range from dense planting to a central swale to habitats for insects and wildlife.

World Child Cancer’s Nurturing Garden

Designer Giulio Giorgi Contractor Landesigns Ltd

Sponsor Project

Giving Back, World Child Cancer UK

Plant supplier Hortus Loci

Relocation CLIC House, located close to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

A holistic approach to care has shaped the design of Giulio Giorgi’s garden, which will act as a haven for children undergoing cancer treatment and their families. There are sensory experiences, such as fragrant herbs and edible plants in raised beds made from perforated clay blocks that fit together without the use of cement or chemical glues. A reclaimed brick path leads to a meadow and seating area with trees and plants.

Burma Skincare Initiative

Spirit of Partnership Garden

Designer Helen Olney Contractor Conquest Creative Spaces

Sponsor Burma Skincare Initiative, Sanofi, British Dermatological Nursing Group, No. 7 Beauty Company

Plant supplier Bernhards, Junker’s Nursery, Anglo Aquatics Relocation Dulwich College

Helen Olney is making her Chelsea debut after studying at the London College of Garden Design. This will be the first Burmese garden to feature at Chelsea, and one with a theme of skin disease and skin health, highlighting the support Burmese healthcare workers treating those with skin conditions are receiving from a global dermatological partnership. This is represented through various textures, such as bark, moss and lichen.


Designer Kazuyuki Ishihara Contractor

Team Ishihara


G-Lion Group Relocation Maggie’s Centres in the UK

Kazuyuki Ishihara has been a Chelsea regular since 2006, picking up more than 10 Gold medals along the way, including for his garden at last year’s show. The Japanese designer returns this year with a family garden centred around the theme of happiness. A waterfall cascades into a central pool, with a driveway to the left and, on the right, steps leading up to a building covered in greenery. Japanese plants such as acer and Farfugium japonicum offer various shades of green, and rainwater harvesting has been incorporated.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 77

The Boodles Garden

Designer Catherine MacDonald

Contractor Gadd Brothers Trees & Landscapes

Sponsor Boodle

Plant supplier Creepers

Nursery, Deepdale, Kelways, Rymer Trees

Relocation In front of the National Gallery (subject to planning permission)

No stranger to Chelsea, Catherine MacDonald is appearing at the show for a sixth time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the National Gallery, drawing inspiration from its paintings, in particular the hidden details within them. Art movements such as Pointillism and Impressionism will be reflected in the design, from sculptural metal arches to a mostly green planting palette. Cement-free concrete is being used as well as hessian as the protective membrane, reducing the use of single use plastic.

The Bridgerton Garden

Designer Holly Johnston

Contractor Stewart Landscape Construction

Sponsor Netflix

Plant supplier Hortus Loci

Relocation TBC

Aligning with the release of the third season of its hugely popular programme Bridgerton, Netflix is coming to this year’s Chelsea with a garden based on the wallflowerlike character Penelope Featherington. Career changer Holly Johnstone has designed a garden that reflects the character’s journey, starting with a moongate which acts as a portal and leading to a sunken seating area in the centre, where drystone walling reduces the use of cement and mortar.

The Freedom from Torture Garden: A Sanctuary for Survivors

Designer John Warland and Emma O’Connell Contractor Living Landscapes

Sponsor Project Giving Back, Freedom from Torture Plant supplier Beth Chatto Nurseries, Kelways, Provender Nurseries, Peter Beales Relocation Freedom From Torture HQ at Finsbury Park, London

John Warland and Emma O’Connell have designed a therapeutic garden for those who are on their journey of recovery after surviving torture. The arid, low-fertility planting of The Freedom from Torture Garden matches with the ethos of Beth Chatto’s Plants & Gardens when it comes to the changing climate, with plants being used that would usually be suitable for the end of May, rather than being forced. Contractor Living Landscapes’ approach also aligns, with no cement being used and no materials going to landfill.

Killik & Co: ‘Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees’ Garden

Designer Baz Grainger Contractor Landform Consultants Ltd

Sponsor Killik & Co, Allgreen Plant supplier Creepers, Baum & Bonheur Relocation Many of the smaller plants are being rehoused at houses of Killik & Co, the trees are being returned to Landform HQ for a new project, and the hard landscaping materials are being used in a school project.

Having retrained as a garden designer seven years ago, Baz Grainger joined multi-award-winning design and build company Landform Consultants last year and, after creating his first show garden for Hampton Court, is now set to make his Chelsea debut. With the sponsor in mind – a family-focused wealth management service – Grainger has designed a garden for relieving the stress around finances whilst encouraging conversation around the taboo topic. Plants that are scented and with a softer colour palette add to the calming effect. CEMENT

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 78
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Sue Ryder Grief Kind Garden

Drawing on her own journey through bereavement after the loss of her mother, Katherine Holland has designed a quiet, reflective space to highlight charity Sue Ryder’s Grief Kind movement, aiming to help people support those who are living with grief. It aims to encourage people to meet and talk openly about experiences with loss, providing a space for reflection using sensory planting, taking inspiration from the history of lace production in Bedford – to where it will be relocated.


Katherine Holland

Contractor Greenscape

Gardens Ltd

Sponsor Project

Giving Back, Sue Ryder

Plant supplier

How Green Nursery


Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, Bedford

Bowel Research UK: Microbiome Garden

Two winners of Pro

Designer Chris Hull and Sid Hill

Contractor Atlantes Landscapes

Sponsor Project Giving Back, Bowel Research UK

Plant supplier Hortus Loci

Relocation Apricot Centre in Totnes, Devon

Landscaper’s 30 Under 30: The Next Generation have come together to design the Microbiome Garden at this year’s Chelsea. Created as a community garden in the West Country, the space highlights the microbiome that naturally lives in and on humans and how edible plants can nourish this collection of microbes. A hexagonal shelter called ‘the hive’ forms the focal point of the garden and offers a space for people to gather.

GARDENS All About Plants

Specialist plants are being put centre stage across these cement-free gardens

The Planet Good Earth Garden

Designer Betongpark & Urban Organic

Contractor Betongpark & Urban Organic, Stewart Landscape Construction

Sponsor Project Giving Back, Planet

Good Earth CIC

Plant supplier Urban Organic

Relocation Hay Castle Trust, Hay-on-Wye

In what will be the show’s first skateable exhibit, The Planet Good Earth Garden combines skateboarding with purely edible planting, including apple, plum and mulberry trees. This will be Jack Astbury’s first time at Chelsea and the young garden designer will be growing his own plants through his company Urban Organic, which transforms neglected city spaces into edible landscapes. A granite skate ramp dominates the garden, which will be relocated to be part of a new community-focused educational space.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 81

The Pulp Friction – Growing Skills Garden

Designer Will Dutch and Tin-Tin Azure-Marxen Contractor Big Fish


Sponsor Project Giving Back, Pulp Friction CIC

Plant supplier How Green Nursery, Pulp Friction CIC, Nottingham Univerity and Brook Farm, Majestic Trees

Relocation Stockhill Fire Station in Nottingham – as a community garden by Pulp Friction

The Growing Skills Garden celebrates the members of Pulp Friction, an organisation that provides opportunities for those with learning disabilities and autistic people to get into work, with many elements of the garden having been constructed by them. The garden minimises waste, using upcycled fire houses, waste material from timber milling, and stone off cuts, and utilises plants that have secondary uses, such as being edible, medicinal or beneficial to wildlife.

The Size of Wales Garden

Snowdonia-based garden designer Dan Bristow is showcasing the work of Size of Wales, a charity that strives to protect an area of tropical forests that’s two million hectares in total –or the size of Wales. It could be one of the most biodiverse gardens in Chelsea’s history, featuring some plants that will have never been seen before at the show, to highlight the diversity of the flora in tropical forests. More than 300 plants species are being used as well as only local materials.

Designer Dan Bristow Contractor

Mark Wallinger

Sponsor Project Giving Back, Size of Wales

Plant supplier Crug Farm Plants, Kevock Garden Plants, Burncoose Nurseries, Rare British Plants

Nursery, Darcy Everest, Beth Chatto Plants, Broadleigh Nursery, Pottertons Nursery, and more.

Relocation Treborth Botanic Garden, North Wales

The Panathlon Joy Garden

Designer Penelope Walker Contractor Stewart Landscape Construction

Having designed four trade stands for RHS shows previously, garden designer Penelope Walker is using a vibrant and colourful planting scheme to create a joyful space at this year’s Chelsea. Curves shape the garden, from a winding path to bowed tree stems to a semi-circular bench, with the aim of providing an accessible and inclusive space. Biodiversity will be encouraged through a variety of plants, such as Salvia ‘Neon’ and Rosa ‘Fragrant Delight’.

Sponsor Project Giving Back, The Panathlon Foundation

Plant supplier How Green Nursery Relocation Majorie McClure school in Bromley, South London

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 RHS CHELSEA 2024 82


About the conference

How can commercial landscapers seize the opportunity to realise the increasing expectation for outdoor space in developments being planned? How can this potential be realised and what action is needed to accelerate this progress? What can we learn from the other business sectors?

These are the specific granular discussions that will be taking place at The Future of Commercial Landscaping Conference on 6 June in Birmingham, brought to you by Pro Landscaper. This dedicated one day conference will unite over 150 key stakeholders within commercial landscaping and its wider supply chain, which will help identify common areas that will benefit and elevate the value of our industry.

Defining the future – how big is the opportunity for commercial landscaping?

• The policy landscape

• The economic landscape

• How are landscaping leaders adapting their strategies and approaches?

Time to loosen the shackles, opportunities to collaborate and learn that will drive growth

• To tender or not to tender?

• Project delivery and fulfilment – overcoming the legacy challenges so we can move on and grow?

Tackling three key things that will get commercial landscaping on the front foot

• Uniting on where commercial landscaping can have the biggest impact on society?

• Attracting and retaining the right people

• Lobbying and influencing, how are other sectors presenting their case?


• Liz Nicholson – Managing director, Nicholsons

• Chris Wellbelove – Director, Blakedown Landscapes

• Nick White – Principal BNG advisor, Natural England

• Jon Berry – MD, Tyler Grange

• Helen Nyul – Group head of biodiversity, Barratt Developments plc

• Kate Slegg-Newton – Associate director and regional lead, WSP

• Steve O’Conner – CEO, Creative Concern

Connect and meet with leading industry suppliers attending including Boningale Nurseries, EcoScape, Elite Precast Concrete, Green-tech, Jub Holland, Van den Burk Nurseries


Ticket type

Landscaping contractors and architects of trade association

Book before 9 May and SAVE £100 Full rate

£195 + VAT£295  + VAT

Local authority, public body or registered charity  £145 + VAT£245 + VAT

Supplier or solution provider

£295 + VAT£495 + VAT

TO BOOK YOUR TICKET GO TO: or contact: / 01903 777579

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Everyone loves RHS Chelsea Flower Show for its innovation, creativity and sheer joy of plants and gardening. Whether a seasoned gold-medal winning designer or a novice gardener with a passion for beautiful blooms, Chelsea provides advice and inspiration for everyone to take home.

Quite simply, the secret to the show’s success is its celebration of every aspect of gardening. Whilst it provides spectacular plant and nursery displays, gardens created by world-famous designers and pocket-sized balconies, it also highlights emerging designers, fresh ideas in landscaping and launches exciting new plants and products, whilst celebrating firm favourites.


Helena Pettit shares the highlights of this year’s Great Pavilion at Chelsea, where it’s all about plants

Each year, I’m inspired by something completely different – there is so much innovation on display across the whole show. This year, I’m especially looking forward to the Great Pavilion which lies at the heart of the show. It is full of vibrant displays by some of the UK’s finest plant nurseries and offers an experience like no other. Walking into the Pavilion, your senses are assaulted by the wonderful scent of flowers and the sheer scale and colour of the displays is overwhelming.

This year, for the first time, the Royal Horticultural Society is partnering with UBS, global financial services firm, on an immersive, walk-through feature providing visitors with an insight into a grower’s daily life and showcasing four nurseries who specialise in edibles and wildflowers. This includes two first-time exhibitors: Kent Wildflower Seeds, the first wildflower nursery to exhibit in the Great Pavilion, and She Grows Veg, a new nursery bringing heirloom varieties of vegetables to the show. Alongside these are mushroom specialists, The Caley Brothers, which won gold last year, and awardwining family grower of herbs and edible plants, Kitchen Garden Plant Centre.

Designed by Emma Tipping in association with

award-winning grower Rosy Hardy, it is a feature that will not only look sensational but really appreciates the work of nurseries and aims to expand our understanding of their skills and dedication.

Every year we are delighted to welcome new and returning nurseries to the Great Pavilion. This year, we look forward to welcoming back the legendary Blackmore & Langdon, which has exhibited its show-stopping begonias and delphiniums at every Chelsea since the very beginning.

There is so much innovation on display across the whole show

We are also delighted to be welcoming back Derry Watkins Specialist Plants, which last exhibited its tender and hardy plants back in 1997. Newcomers to the show this year include Jonathan Sheppard –National Plant Collection of Cosmos Bipinnatus and Strete Gate Camellias, among others.

Additionally, I couldn’t mention the Great Pavilion without highlighting the fresh and

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 Preview

fun All About Plants gardens. These bring an edible skate park, plants for gut health and a tropical forest among the designs. With a focus on unusual and specialist plants, the six gardens in this category are by up-and-coming designers and supported by Project Giving Back. Whether you garden for your own health, the health of the planet or just for the joy of it, these gardens have something for everyone, with inspiration for all gardeners to try something new. The Great Pavilion also houses the science exhibits in the Discovery Zone, the fantastic Floristry and RHS Experience which includes the finalists of the RHS Plant of the Year and RHS Sustainable Product of the Year –there’s a huge amount to see and discover beyond the gardens outside. RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 21-25 May 2024 and tickets are available online at

Helena Pettit is director of shows, commercial and innovation at the RHS. With over 25 years of commercial application, sponsorship, operational management, attractions and largescale event experience, Helena has brought her passion and knowledge to support the growth of the RHS and horticulture. Helena’s division includes the RHS Shows portfolio including RHS Chelsea Flower Show, catering, retail & commercial events within our five RHS gardens, RHS venues, online and licensing business and commercial sales.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 85


Mark Straver offers insight into Hortus Loci’s preparations in the lead up to RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

As the days lengthen and the first hints of early summer begin to unfurl, the Hortus Loci nursery is abuzz with activity as we prepare for the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024. We're fully supplying six show gardens this year, and partially supplying many more, making it our biggest show yet! We embarked on this journey last July, when we carefully cultivated thousands of plants from seed or cutting, and we have been nurturing and caring for them with unwavering dedication ever since.

This year, we’re very fortunate to be working with some amazing designers, all of whom share our deep-rooted passion for plants. They understand the challenges we face and value our advice and guidance, which has made the monumental task so much easier for us. Together, these designers have delivered a diverse cross-section of show garden styles, from the drought-resilient plants in Giulio Giorgi's Mediterranean garden to the floodresilient plants in Tom Massey and Je Ahn's WaterAid Garden.

20 da ys to go! RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024 Preview

In addition to the variety of styles this year, the Chelsea designers have also focused on planting schemes that can withstand the extreme weather conditions that we now experience with increasing regularity. For some time now, nurseries and specialist growers worldwide have been growing plants that can survive climate change, and while resilience has been a hot topic this year, we're relieved to see the industry move beyond talk to action. This year’s Chelsea is demonstrating a genuine commitment to finding real, usable solutions, instead of simply following the trends – it promises to be an exciting show!

Supplying a show garden at any scale is a huge, risky undertaking, and without that all-important recognition and support, fewer and fewer nurseries and growers are getting involved

As the big day creeps closer, we're closely monitoring the weather forecast with a watchful eye to ensure we continue to offer the perfect growing conditions for each variety of plant, no matter what the environment throws at us. Depending on the weather, we are constantly relocating hundreds of plants to different areas around the nursery to ensure they flourish at the right moment. Being 100% peat-free, we also have to be mindful of how the rain or heat can affect the moisture in the different blends of peat-free compost our plants are growing in.

So far, we've had a wet, mild winter with little sunshine, but we've avoided any serious cold spells. Ideally, we'd love lots of rain overnight and plenty of sun during the day with temperatures gradually building to the early 20s. But we've got to be realistic and be prepared for any unusual weather conditions.

For instance, warm weather could attract pests such as greenfly. In such cases, we would need to adjust our biological control methods at the nursery, as we don't use chemical sprays. Despite our years of experience with Chelsea, we still feel the pressure. We only have three weeks to deliver 40,000 flawless plants, trees, and shrubs to the showground, while still running our nursery! It's a feat that requires meticulous planning and expertise, with everyone at the nursery working tirelessly to get the job done. There's no such thing as weekends or lie-ins for any of us.

Supplying a show garden at any scale is a huge, risky undertaking, and without that allimportant recognition and support, fewer and fewer nurseries and growers are getting involved. As the gates of Chelsea swing open on Press Day, we hope the world remembers that the show is only possible because of the skill and dedication of the plantsmen and women who work so hard to make it happen.


Mark Straver is a thirdgeneration nurseryman based in Hampshire and has worked with plants since the age of 16. He is joint owner and director at Hortus Loci, which he founded with Robin Wallis in 2011. He’s known in the gardening world for his ability to source the best wholesale plants internationally, using his extensive knowledge, connections, and experience in the industry.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 86

Some projects do not require „off-the-shelf“ trees, but real characters. In addition to their size and age, these are often characterized by very individual growth. Such a „character“ should be given a prominent place in a project so that it can reflect and support the overall theme of the project.

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Create a flowering lawn reminiscent of the nostalgic charm of times past with abundant buttercups and daisies while simultaneously promoting biodiversity. Additionally, the lawn must be robust enough to withstand frequent use, catering to various activities without compromising its beauty or ecological integrity.

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Are standards


As part of the committee behind it, David Strows highlights the benefits of the new BS 7533-102 for paving installation

Ihate to admit it, but when I began landscaping, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be successfully cloned, Charles and Diana got divorced, DVDs were launched in Japan and the number of users on the internet had only just exceed 10 million – a lot has changed since then.

Some things, however, are slower to progress. When I began my career all those years ago, no single point of construction specification for the domestic landscaping industry existed. Most contractors learned their skills on the job, and the ‘knowledge’ was handed down from landscaper to trainee, master to apprentice. Along the way, the tutor imparted their wisdom along with it and, although I will admit that adding washing up liquid to the mortar mix as a substitute for plasticiser certainly served to make the job more pleasant by enveloping you in the aroma of lemons, it did precious little for the structural integrity of the mortar.

Fast forward to the modern day, and although some of these ideas have been assigned to the annals of history, our industry still lacks a single, fit-for-purpose

construction specification. In fact, if you asked 10 landscapers how to build the same thing, you’d probably get at least five different answers. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told, “There’s more than one way to build something,” and “We build to our own standards”.

This historic lack of cohesion and understanding around specification has resulted in structural failures and disappointed customers, which in turn has created opportunities for financial gain for self-appointed ‘experts’ in a flourishing

and adding our own opinion to the pot? Or should we unite as an industry to agree and work to a single, fit-for-purpose construction standard that will simplify the specification process, provide easy dialogue between designers, contractors and clients, become the basis for the development of vocational qualifications and help to define us as professionals?

To me, the answer seems simple, and thankfully it is soon to arrive in the form of the new British Standard BS 7533-102

It's hardly any wonder, then, that we find ourselves in a situation where our industry is perceived by the public as a trade rather than a profession.

So, what is the answer? Should we carry on as we are as an industry with many designers and contractors doing their best to piece together tantalising snippets of information from various sources

To me, the answer seems simple, and thankfully it is soon to arrive in the form of the new British Standard BS 7533-102.

Over the past four years or so, I have been privileged to be part of a team of dedicated individuals reflecting all areas of the landscaping industry including suppliers, engineers, designers, and contractors, who were tasked with creating the BS7533-102 British Standard for paving installation.

BS 7533-102 provides installation guidance for all types of paving. It is intended to be referenced in isolation or in tandem with the existing BS 7533-101, which provides engineering design guidance for heavily trafficked paving.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 89

Within this standard is a list of traffic categories which are defined by the type and amount of traffic that the construction will be expected to support. BS 7533-101 is aimed predominantly at more heavily trafficked projects where loading by HGVs and buses tends to require a deeper understanding of engineering to be used effectively.

When forming BS 7533-102, it was decided that a section would be included to provide simplified design guidance if no design in accordance with BS 7533-101 had already been provided to the installer. This section in BS 7533-102 is called Clause 4.

It is the most significant development to be introduced to the domestic landscaping industry in the duration of my career

During the process of creating this document, we were deeply saddened to lose one of the most knowledgeable, charismatic, and well-respected members of our industry. Tony McCormack passed away due to illness in September 2022. His contribution to assembling BS 7533-102 was hugely significant, and his influence will live on in future generations.

This new standard is something to be embraced. It is the most significant development to be introduced to the domestic landscaping industry in the duration of my career and the benefits of this document are numerous.

As a part of its commitment to promoting knowledge, skills training, and standards, once released, the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) will be embedding BS7533-101 and 102 into the practice and assessment of its members. To support them with the transition, it will be hosting a series of educational seminars, Zoom presentations and downloadable documents with the support of David Burton who, amongst other national, European, and international standards-making roles, chaired the committee developing BS 7533-102.

These seminars are to be free for members of APL and MAPL to access, whilst available to non-members for a fee.

Clause 4 provides design guidance that focuses on traffic categories one to three, which are typically considered domestic in use. Importantly, this guidance is easy to understand and apply, which makes it very accessible and usable.

Creating a standard requires many hours of very focused and detailed effort by all involved. Experts chosen to form the committee are at the top of their industry sector and donate their time in order for those who use the standard to not only create projects that are fit for purpose but also provide the means to further develop their skills and knowledge.

This single point of reference by which our industry can unite provides the professional landscaper and garden designer with the means to justify their specification and the cost of the project to the client. It helps the client to differentiate between the professional landscaper and the ‘jobber’. It assists in reducing carbon footprint and aids sustainability. It is also a catalyst in developing vocational qualifications, career progression and a key tool in continuing professional development (CPD). This in turn has the potential to define our industry as a profession and become a more attractive career choice to those in education.

The APL is proud to be a part of promoting this new standard, so if you would like any advice on what it means to you or your business once released, please feel free to contact the APL.

In the meantime, keep the washing up liquid for the washing up!


David Strows is the current vice chair of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) and a member of the BS7533 committee. Based in Buckinghamshire, he owned a design and build landscaping company for 30 years and is now an independent consultant and mediator.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 90


The Goodwood Estate

Thursday 13 June 2024

The second Pro Landscaper and FutureScape Golf Challenge will be held on 13 June 2024 at Goodwood’s members-only The Downs Course. Golf has been played at Goodwood for over a century. There are two championship golf courses nestled into the spectacular countryside. The Downs Course was designed originally for the pleasure of the Seventh Duke of Richmond’s golf-mad children by the famous golfer and five-time Open Champion, James Braid in 1914, being described as the finest downland course in Britain.


Golf package

• Tea, coffee, bacon roll on arrival

• Driving range token

• Course planner

• Golf buggies

• 18 holes on The Downs Course

• Evening meal


£275 per person

£1000 fourball

£1,550 fourball plus sponsorship

£75 per head for food option only

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Hotel recommendations • The Goodwood hotel • Avisford Park • Travelodge Arundel Fontwell Park Pro Landscaper will provide transport options from the above hotels to Goodwood Address Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0QB to book onto the Golf Challenge now CONTACT OLLIE Pos. Company Stableford Points 1Nurture Landscapes 89 2Adtrak 85 3Crowders Nurseries 83 4Outdoor Room 81 5Conway Landscapes79 6Maylim 78 7CTD Tiles 78 8Glendale 78 9Eljays44 74 10Frosts Landscapes 74 2023 Top 10 Leaderboard Can you beat Nurture Landscapes?

MUSE A modernist

Anyone who has spent time walking around modern Dutch suburbs and residential districts will know just how well planned they are. Everything seems to be on a very human scale. There are few tower blocks, or sprawls of identical housing; but instead a constant variation, and very often small neighbourhoods, parks or other arrangements of buildings and landscaping that create areas of intimacy. Planting plays a major role, often quite low key, but providing plenty of greenery to balance the preponderance of buildings and hard surfaces.

Dutch urban landscape design in general, and planting in particular, owes a huge debt to a remarkable woman, Mien Ruys (1904-1999). For around half a century she dominated the field, and indeed we could say of the country's landscape profession, that it has been a rare example of a woman playing a formative role in the development of her nation's profession. For English speakers, however, it has been hugely frustrating that there is next to nothing about her available in English. That has now changed, with the publication of a book – ‘Mien Ruys: The Mother of Modernist Gardens’ by Julia Crawford, published by Lund Humphries. At last, we can find out more about this hugely influential figure.

Inspired by the publication of a recent book, Noel Kingsbury considers the influence of the late Dutch designer, Mien Ruys

landscapes, and that she had an equal interest in architectural forms as in the plants themselves. Her own garden, inherited from her nurseryman father, became a trial ground, for design ideas and plants. It is still open to the public today. Personally, what I like about her work is the sense of balance, between architectural forms, such as clipped foliage in simple geometric shapes, and loose planting. This balance is one of the aspects of much 'ordinary' Dutch public landscape planting. What seems to have gone wrong in Britain, is that we only took on board the informal shrub planting, and then around about the millennium, began to clip it – badly, without any clear direction, plan or clear purpose. Mien Ruys-inspired planting nearly always includes a clipped element, but one that is part of the plan, and clear

For around half a century she dominated the field, and indeed we could say of the country's landscape profession

and simple in its geometry. Unclipped elements stay that way (bar, trimming edges along pathways). There is clear contrast, and the direction of clipping is decided at the outset by the landscape designer and not on an ad hoc basis by untrained management personnel. The result achieves a harmony and sense of order rarely achieved in Britain and contributes subtly to the distinctly cared-for feeling of many Dutch public housing areas. Some argue that we never really engaged with Modernism in British garden and landscape design. But it is never too late, and we could start by getting familiar with the work of this remarkable lady.


Noel Kingsbury is a freelance designer, writer and researcher who has long promoted naturalistic planting design. He also runs the education website

Dutch urban landscape design has had an influence on Britain since the 1960s; in particular, the use of shrubs. However, there is a definite feeling that we have lost the plot on this one, and so there is real value in going back to the source and getting a sense of what made Mien Ruys' work so successful.

Ruys was unusual in that she was involved in private as well as public

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 93


With RHS Chelsea approaching, Lewis Normand discusses the difference between ‘good’ garden designers and ‘great’ ones

Ihave the pleasure of working with many good and great designers in my work, and the differences are sometimes small, but often telling. I will name no names here; this is a guide to the difference between good and great, but not a dispassionate list of who features where. Partly this is because it is changing; some work will be great one year and good the next. Moreso, however, the difference between good and great is, inevitably, somewhat in the eye of the beholder.

Good garden designers love their work. They enjoy gardens and plants and consider the intrinsic value of their preferred materials, both hard and soft. Great garden designers are eternal students, focused on intimately engaging with construction materials as well as techniques, plants and their purpose. Great designers interpret gardens and landscapes and evaluate them for their merits and failings. I find great garden designers are far more resilient when it comes to change management. They see the overall vision as more important to be realised than the necessity to plod on regardless in the face of obvious failings in a process, material or changing brief.

Good designers, of course, are able to make adaptive changes to designs and revise spaces, whereas great designers think in the context of the whole when making these changes. The difference between the two is often depth of thought. It is not to say that I believe one is more intelligent than the other, but more that the response of the good designer is simply a pragmatic reaction to the need for change, whereas the great designer responds by looking at the entirety of the space and the context of the change to the

end result. Plants are an essential component of garden design; great designers know the plants they use very well indeed. They may be formulaic with plant selection, but they do this because they know intimately the qualities of the plants they use and the requirements of site and soil. An aesthetic identity is sometimes true of the work of both good and great designers, where similar and even the same plants feature very heavily in their various projects. They competently add and subtract perfect choices from their plant palettes to maintain their aesthetic in various sites. To my mind, great garden designers are almost always very keen plantspeople. Their requests to suppliers are often challenging, requesting sourcing or growing of material not always widely available, but always wonderful.

Landscape architect, James C. Rose wrote in an article for Modern Landscape Architecture in 1938: “Plants are to the [garden] designer what words are to the conversationalist. Anyone can use words. Anyone can use plants. But the fastidious will make them sparkle with aptness.”

An appreciation of history and historic land use is as important as a knowledge and understanding of art and design.

Good designers make useable and well-crafted spaces. Great designers make spaces which exude sophistication, refinement and confident brilliance.

In terms of show gardens, I often find the best designers are those that adapt to change most willingly during the process from initial design to judged garden. They roll with the punches when it comes to a particular plant not performing, or their plot location moving.

Great designers think clearly on their feet here, responding with reasoned and often experience-based changes

That sums up the difference between the good and the great when it comes to plant selection and the same is true of materials and construction techniques. Some designers have their favourite stone for paving, but each material’s relationship to the locality, the regional natural materials and design aesthetic, buildings contained with the space, and other factors, all contribute to the questions as to whether they are suitable or not to use. Due thought should always be made to what is being planted and built (and why), and which materials and techniques are used.

They respond with well-prepared plans for options B and C when option A becomes unachievable.

Great designers think clearly on their feet here, responding with reasoned and often experience-based changes. Dr Eve Poole talks of leadership in her excellent book ‘Leadersmithing’. She stresses that leaders aren’t born; they are made. The same is true of great garden designers. They were once good, but as eternal students with a wealth of experience and understanding elevate themselves to greatness.


Lewis has worked in a wide variety of roles within horticulture over a 20-year career. He has lectured on garden design and horticulture, and designed gardens in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Since 2011, Lewis has focused on nursery sales, now working as sales manager at Bernhard’s Nurseries, and has helped to launch a number of new plants into the UK plant market. He is a specialist supplier to show gardens, supplying more than 100 gardens at major shows.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 94 OPINION


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We need to stop transport stifling innovation in new developments, argues Christopher Martin

In no other industry do we resist innovation as fiercely as we do in transport. I am not talking about boring tunnels through the desert to install Hyperloop, or the rise of ride sharing software in cities. I am talking about how we see the transport industry and shape transport. We do not see transport as a servant to quality of life; we make places that put people as servants to transport.

If we look at the majority of new developments that we’re building in the UK, it’s clear that we are consistently getting transport issues wrong, throttling the future potential of the places we create and the lives

Cars taking priority

that unfold in them. The Housing Design Audit for England (2020) examined the design of 142 large-scale housing-led development projects across England against 17 design considerations, finding that new housing design is overwhelmingly ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’. Digging into this data in terms of what we are getting right, and what we are getting wrong, of the seven key success and failure factors, three are directly linked to transport with a further two being intimately connected to transport.

Of the three directly linked to transport, all are consistent failings:

• We are consistently creating developments that are car dependant and are not walkable, despite evidence from researchers such as Rachel Aldred, showing the positive health effects of active travel interventions; or Living Streets’ Pedestrian Pound highlighting that more walkable places are healthier places for people, planet, and pocket. By eliminating walkability from developments, we are negatively affecting generations to come.

• We are consistently delivering neighbourhoods where streets do not connect up, unless you’re driving. But more troubling, the report highlighted the broad national variation in practice in the design of streets and transport, despite guidance documents like Manual for Streets. In part, some places are still incorrectly using Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, a document by its own admission wholly unfit for residential streets.

If what we’ve been doing is failing, then we need to do things differently –we need to innovate

• Finally, the way we are shaping the most basic of human needs – that of shelter and community – is being determined not by the needs of people, but by the needs of bin lorries, servicing, and space for cars to rest. And we wonder why housing development today is not working. One guidance document in Cheltenham, for example, instructs designers that “all developments will need to cater for access by…large articulated lorries.” Such broad statements mean that all streets will be unsuitable for children playing or community life unfolding, rather than finding a balance where transport becomes a servant to our quality of life.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 97

Building on these detailed failings, the Competition and Markets Authority Report on Housebuilding, published in February, hammered home the fact that “the housebuilding market is not delivering well for consumers and has consistently failed to do so over successive decades,” and the rise in “professional snaggers” offering services direct to homebuyers is testament to the fact that people are not content with development quality.

As a Transport and Urban Design consultant of 18 years, I feel strongly that if what we’ve been doing is failing, then we need to do things differently – we need to innovate. In this, you cannot just magic away the cars from developments to make them more walkable, or less car dominated. Together, we have to create and deliver bold ideas, which are rooted in evidence, to create a transport network that is a servant to our quality of life, rather than making people dependant on a transport that is making them less healthy and society less equitable.

We need to call out transport design that’s shackling development and communities to an unsustainable, unhealthy future

vehicles and trips; rethinking corner radii and large swept paths; and rethinking guidance documents like Secured by Design that pushes designers into cul-de-sacs and front drive parking. Not only does doing this work unlock a residential development that is centred on people, place and planet, but it is also creating the most interesting developments we’re reading about at the moment. This is in part because they are all focused around the more urban, more messy, energetic, and more captivating brownfield sites that traditional transport thinking shuns, or more accurately thinks it has to shun. This means transport has the power to deliver the most sustainable, most compelling urban developments that we have ever seen – or not.

More cycling routes

Less priority to cars

Looking at our recent work to help city-makers like Human Nature (Lewes Phoenix) and TOWN (Hartree Cambridge) create sustainable and meaningful places by getting the transport right, there are clear learnings. We need to build trusting relationships with the highways authorities so that we can have conversations that take us away from today’s typical transport solutions. These conversations will be around delivering parking maximums; parking barns; communal bin storage or shared services to eliminate regular large

Backcasting is the process of setting a place vision and working to make it a reality, and that reality will require a specific type of transport. To move forward like this, much like the attention one receives for pulling down a building before exploring retrofit these days, we need to call out transport design that’s shackling development and communities to an unsustainable, unhealthy future. New development should be pioneering better ways of living, not languishing harmfully in the perceived comfort of the past.


prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 OPINION 98
Christopher is an influential urban designer and planner working all over the globe to help communities improve their public spaces; as well as supporting cities and governments to develop strategy, change policies, and make great places possible. He is co-founder and director of Urban Strategy at Urban Movement; a trustee of the UK charity for everyday walking – Living Streets; past vice chair of the UK Urban Design Group; and is a member of the United Nations Planning and Climate Action Group. @ChrisCities ©Werner Spremberg/


Pro Landscaper asks quick-fire questions to gain a small insight into the people who make up our industry. To take part, email

Winner Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Award 2023: Commercial design project

Why did you enter the Pro Landscaper

Sustainability & Biodiversity Awards?

It was initially to promote the charity

Fauna and Flora, which is a massive conservation charity that does such good work globally. But also, the messaging started to change once we started designing this project. It became bigger than that and it presented the opportunity to inspire other people to look at how they're creating gardens and to show others that there's a better way. I just thought that if it were then to be recognised within the industry, with a sustainability award behind it, then it would help with that messaging.

What have been the biggest challenges across the year?

One of the sticking points has been trying to do things more sustainably without having the project end up being so much more expensive. When you're using things like recycled materials, it tends to be more expensive than using new, so you have to think creatively about the ways in which you source everything.

Would you recommend entering an award with Pro Landscaper?

I found the whole process quite joyful. But also, long-term, it is a good thing to do because it really boosts your confidence. I'd highly, highly recommend it.

Winner Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Award 2023: Domestic Build Project, and Pro Landscaper Project Award: Special Feature Under £35,000

How has winning a Pro Landscaper

Sustainability & Biodiversity Award benefited your business? It has been a great boost of confidence as we have just undergone a complete employee takeover, going from the previous directors to a team made up of three members of the management. These two award-winning projects were designed and built by me and our team. This has created an appetite to excel, succeed and showcase what we can do.

What have been the biggest challenges across the year?

All in all, we have had a very successful year. The succession plan was an exciting challenge with new responsibilities and fresh ideas, but the challenge of balancing this change with existing projects was interesting. The fact that the company has been built up over 30 years, with a lot of passion and care, leaves big shoes to fill.

What are you most looking forward to for the year ahead?

As a team, we are looking forward to working with new and existing clients in the creation of inspiring water features and wetlands that will enhance biodiversity, as well as to see the satisfaction wildlife brings to people.

Winner Pro Landscaper Sustainability & Biodiversity Award 2023: Landscaping Company

How has winning a Pro Landscaper

Sustainability & Biodiversity Award benefited your business?

Winning this award has brought attention to our sustainable, biodiverse-rich working practices and created social media interest. We entered the award to increase our company profile, and proudly showcase our market-leading, chemicalfree and sustainable working practices, which challenge the industry status quo.

Why do you believe the awards are so important?

It sends a clear message of the importance of sustainability and biodiversity. This is especially true postlockdowns, which brought about a seismic shift in the way green spaces are considered. We’re looking forward to the opportunities that arise as we continue to share Q&S’ enthusiasm for expertise in sustainability and biodiversity. Generally, there is a positive buzz in the air, which makes it an exciting time to be involved in landscaping.

Biggest challenges across the year?

Recruitment. But rather than focus on that, we need to rethink how we engage with schools, colleges, charities, and proactively educate everyone on the benefits of working within landscaping.

prolandscapermagazine .com Pro Landscaper | May 2024 LAST WORD 99
Owner, Jilayne Rickards Company director and head of water projects, Water Gems (Alba) Limited JILAYNE RICKARDS SUE PAYNE STUART BOOTH Managing director, Quality & Service Ltd

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