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Brewin Dolphin Garden 2013

Landscape architect Robert Myers returns to the Chelsea Flower Show with a design for  Brewin Dolphin. The garden is crisp, modernist and based on L- shaped forms, understated and elegant but still a gardener’s garden, full of what are essentially habitat-inducing British native species used in a thought provoking contemporary way.

Brewin Dolphin Garden

The plant list is varied but neither excessive nor intimidating for those visitors who might be inspired to replicate sections of Robert’s sublime planting. The colour palate is striking but not overwhelming, zingy pinks sit alongside cobalt blues, foiled by wisps of Deschampsia cespitosa softened beautifully by lush green topiary cushions of Buxus sempervirens.  The planting shows how one can use a native palate in a way that is both ornamental and elegant.

Brewin Dolphin Garden

Elegance personified is Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Nivea’, a clump-forming long stalked herbaceous perennial with leafy stems bearing delicately beautiful bell shaped flowers. Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell) is equally graceful but even more delicate with slender stems, so weak that the entire plant bends over to reveal pretty nodding bell shaped clusters of lavender flowers.  The campanula can be found towards the front of the garden planted with the delicate but striking wild galdioli, Gladious illyricus and the purple pink spires of Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’

Brewin Dolphin Garden

Weather willing, Robert has also chosen to push into the Chelsea Flower Show limelight, a highly rare British native currently in serious decline, Anacamptis morio, the green-winged orchid which can be identified by the distinct parallel greenish veins on each side of the hood formed by the tepals on the upper part of the flower.  The flowers vary from pale pink to a deeper purple and create a fabulous contrast to the native lady’s mantle, Alchemilla xanthochlora.

Brewin Dolphin Garden

The garden will feature some tall plants including the striking white Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’ and spire-like Verbascum thaspus (Mullein), famous for its long fuzzy ‘rabbit ears’.  Keen to encourage biodiversity in the garden, Robert has selected British native Armeria maritima (Sea thrift). It is a fully hardy perennial evergreen with glorious pink flowers in late Spring and early Summer. This plant is a true butterfly and bumble bee nectar plant. 

Brewin Dolphin Garden

Plant snobs might also be surprised to see not one but three species of Geranium on this contemporary garden. Geranium pratense, (the Meadow Cranesbill) sports pale blue flowers whilst G. pryenaicum (Hedge Cranesbill) is a very pretty perennial with small mauve flowers, commonly found in central and southern England in meadows, field margins, roadsides and hedgerows. Geranium sanguinium is a charming British native wildflower, perfect for flowering ground cover, as the fine fresh green foliage makes a good summer-long background for the mallow-like flowers. On the Brewin Dolphin garden they will be planted amongst taller perennials such as the delightful dark stemmed angelica Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicar’s Mead’ and the delicate but striking Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Red Thunder’ (Great Burnet). 

Brewin Dolphin Garden

Structure is given to the garden by rarely used pleached Acer Campestre (Field Maple) that form the L shaped boundary around the front of the garden and white blossomed multi-stemmed rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) to soften and create vertical punctuation. A canal which originates from a water wall at the rear of the garden adds gentle sound and movement to this tranquil space. 

Brewin Dolphin Garden

The planting is subtle and Robert has chosen each plant with a distinct purpose in mind, be it for colour, scent or structure or in the case of Lonicera periclymenum (honeysuckle) which will scramble over the slatted boundary wall, for all three!  Shrubs selected for form include the beautiful berry wielding Viburnum opulus which will be planted along the side boundary with hazel (Corylus avellana) and spindle (Euonymus europeus). The sumptuous pillows of box always attract attention at the Chelsea Flower Show and in this garden they are used to soften, add height, structure and draw the eye toward the centre of the garden and the water feature.

Brewin Dolphin Garden

Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’ (white hedgehog rose) is the only rose that will feature and will be planted through the boundary shrubs.  Robert has selected several of his favourite herbaceous perennials to feature in this garden, some old English classics such as cow parsley and angelica (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ and Angelica sylvestris ‘Vicars Mead’) both excellent at providing height and a degree of screening courtesy of the dreamy wisp like clumps. Carex flacca (Blue sedge) will inhabit the sunken area and surround the pillows of box forming wonderful texture and form.