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Harrods British Eccentrics Garden

The Harrods British Eccentrics garden has been designed by Diarmuid Gavin for 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

London UK, 18th January 2016 – Harrods is pleased to announce its second year at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show. This year, the luxury department store will be showcasing the “Harrods British Eccentrics Garden”, designed and created by award-winning gardener and TV personality Diarmuid Gavin. 

Harrods British Eccentrics Garden RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016


Taking a break from his signature contemporary gardens, Gavin has designed an alternative take on a quintessentially English garden, in which he embraces flowering herbaceous perennials, formal topiary, and regimented structure.

Alongside Arts and Crafts elegance, the garden features numerous splashes of quirky eccentricity to pay homage to English cartoonist and illustrator William Heath Robinson. Heath Robinson was best known for drawings of complicated machines designed to achieve simple outcomes. In the UK, the term "Heath Robinson" entered the language during the First World War as a description of any unnecessarily complex and impracticable device, and to this day it is employed to describe temporary fixes using ingenuity, imagination and whatever materials are to hand.

Harrods British Eccentrics Garden RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

Heath Robinson's playful drawings have made him one of Gavin's unconventional British heroes, and with the Heath Robinson ideology played out in the Harrods garden, the quirks, humour and eccentricities of what it means to be British are reflected. Bobbing Buxus spheres, twirling trees, pop-up flower beds, garden furniture that flips, automatic shearing topiary machines, a rotating carousel herb bed, and an octagonal folly which raises its hat in a final flourish are just some of the Heath Robinson-inspired elements.

This is a garden that contains humour, design integrity, detailed execution, and heritage. It is most certainly going to be challenging to pull it off - but then Gavin and his team wouldn't have it any other way. 

Harrods British Eccentrics Garden RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

The team that Gavin has pulled together includes experts from the worlds of architecture, engineering and blacksmithing. He has also gathered some of the best growers, plantsmen, and plantswomen from the UK and Ireland. Gavin regards it as important to draw on skills from a range of generations from both the design and horticultural worlds. He is working with a technical college on the design of the garden’s moving parts and has invited one of the most celebrated plantswomen in the world , garden writer, lecturer and broadcaster Helen Dillon, to join him on the project.

The garden’s central feature is an octagonal tower, a folly that will reveal itself to show visitors with a flurry, demonstrating that nothing is as it seems. Another intriguing oddity is a shed containing numerous Heath Robinson-inspired gadgets. Formal elements include conical topiary bay trees that stand 4m high, and an Italianate sunken water feature with sentry-like edging. The back wall of the plot is cloaked by clipped Carpinus in several cartoonish sizes and shapes. Perennial planting is dotted throughout the topiary to form floral borders.


Harrods British Eccentrics Garden RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

To celebrate the garden and the start of the summer season, Harrods will be hosting a storewide campaign throughout the month of May featuring and a range of in-store events, including appearances by horticulture luminaries Gavin, Dillon, and more.


Trees and Shrubs:

Buxus sempervirens
Osmanthus x burkwoodii
Laurus nobilis
Carpinus betulus
Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'
Rhododendron 'Cunningham's White'
Acer palmatum


Woodland Planting:

Athyrium filix-femina
Viola riviniana
Polystichum setiferum
Liriope muscari
Anemone nemorosa
Matteuccia struthiopteris
Epimedium grandiflorum
Silene dioica
Lychnis flos-cuculi
Primula elatior
Polygonatum multiflorum
Digitalis purpurea
Brunnera macrophylla
Anthriscus sylvestris
Lamium maculatum 'Album'
Lamium galeobdolon
Stellaria holostea


White and Sulphur scheme:

Alchemilla mollis
Achillea 'Moonshine'
Paeonia lactiflora 'Duchesse de Nemours'
Verbascum (Cotswold Group) 'Gainsborough'
Rosa 'Jacqueline du Pre'
Papaver orientale 'Royal Wedding'
Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora (Thompson & Morgan)
Mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream'
Iris 'Immortality'
Eremurus x isabellinus 'Pinokkio'
Melanoselinum decipiens
Rosa 'Macmillan Nurse'
Rosa 'The Queen's Jubilee'
Astrantia 'Superstar'



Astrantia major 'Ruby Wedding'
Digitalis purpurea 'Sutton's Apricot'
Geranium pratense 'Mrs Kendall Clark'
Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'
Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
Rosa 'Madame Knorr'
Achillea 'Lilac Beauty'
Geranium 'Rozanne'
Rosa 'Prima Ballerina'
Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna'
Iris 'Black Knight'
Geranium himalayense 'Plenum'
Rhodohypoxis 'Pretty in Pink'
Rosa 'Louise Odier'
Geum 'Totally Tangerine'
Rosa 'Saint Ethelburga'
Eryngium 'Neptune's Gold'
Nepeta grandiflora 'Summer Magic'
Rehmannia 'Walberton’s Magic Dragon'
Verbascum 'Firedance'


Grasses and others:

Acanthus mollis
Foeniculum vulgare
Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'
Hakonechloa macra 'Alboaurea'
Angelica gigas
Pennisetum alopecuroides f. viridescens
Ophiopogon japonicus
Designed by Diarmuid Gavin

Other gardens by this designer