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The Brewin Dolphin Garden

Chelsea Flower Show garden designers take inspiration from all manner of things both simple and profound and for Brewin Dolphin Garden designer Darren Hawkes it was almost a Eureka moment. Just after returning home to Cornwall that he was walking through a small wooded area and he became entranced by the unfolding of the woodland ferns and umbellifers and thought how wonderful it would be to capture that freshness and fragility and bring it to Chelsea.

Darren was keen to explore the drama that rigid, heavy, monoliths seeming to hover above tender new growth, would bring to a garden. The implausibility of putting the two together excited him and drove him forward.Within a day or two the idea of huge floating platforms suspended above the planting crystallised and from a model of cereal boxes on a kitchen table the garden concept developed.

The Brewin Dolphin Garden

A team of five people cut over 40,000 pieces of slate by hand, which were then glued together one piece at a time to form the surfaces of the floating platforms. This feature is sure to attract both praise and possibly raised eyebrows from the visiting public. The platforms and vertical monoliths are also strongly suggestive of both 1930’s architecture, prehistoric dolmans and quoits. Love or Playing with time and light is possibly a signature of Darren’s and in this garden one of the most fun elements will be following the sunlight which passes through the hole in the high platform as it works its way across the planting beneath.  If the sun shines bright enough, at midday, a well beneath the platform will be lit up from this beam of light.

The Brewin Dolphin Garden

The main hard landscaping materials in the garden are granite and slate plus an accent of distressed steel used for the front railings, which although will serve to keep the public off the garden are actually an integral part of the design, creating a feeling of being part of a greater landscape. The paving throughout the garden is of reclaimed granite flag stones, originally from an old Cornish farmhouse and likewise the boulders for the dry stone wall are also reclaimed from an old farm. There is a lovely contrast between the intricacy and detail in the slate work to that of the big natural boulders of the dry stone wall.

The Brewin Dolphin Garden

The garden as a whole will have the feeling of being slightly unkempt with a sense of having a past. Evidence of previous use is seen in an underground stream that spills from rills and can been seen running through open well heads before entering in to a pool at the front of the garden could suggest some kind of mining past or other commercial use.   It is a garden that demands people engage with it as they step from one level to another crossing over plants and leaning out over the water and although it is rather abstract and sculptural it also evokes tranquillity.

Plant list 

Magnolia kobus multi stem
Ulmus minor
Corylus avellana
Quercus Robur

Viburnum carlesii
Viburnum carlcephalum
Euphorbia pasturii
Euphorbia mellifra
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. Robbiae

Geranium phaeum
Geranuium phaeum 'album'
Geranium Pratense
Gillenia Trifoliata
Hedera helix 'Ivalace'
Iris Sib. Perry's Blue
Juncus effusus
Lamium maculatum 'white nancy'
Macleaya kewensis "Kelways Coral Plume'
Matteuccia struthiopteris
Mathiasella bupluroides green dream
Melittis messophyllum
Nectoscordum siculum
Pimpinella major 'Rosea'
Polygonatum ororatum
Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
Sesleria greenlee's hybrid
Silene latifolia
Silene dioica
Acanthus Spinosa
Alium Ursinum
Galium odoratum poss backup
Angelica sylvestris
Anthriscus sylvestris
Anthriscus sylvestris
Aquilegea vulgaris
Aruncus dioicus
Anthriscus sylvestris
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nivea'
Aquilegea vulgaris
Aruncus dioicus
Asplenium scolpendrium
Asplenium tricomanes
Aspenium Tricomanes
Astrantia 'Buckland'
Athyrium felix-femina
Blechnum spicant
Brunnera m. Mr Morse
Camassia leitchini
Centranthus ruber
Centaurea montana 'Black Sprite'
Centranthus ruber 'Albus'
Cerinthe major Purpurescens
Consolida regalis' Blue Cloud'
Convalaria majalis
Deschampsia cespitosa
Dicentra formosa 'Aurora'
Digitalis Purpurea
Dryopteris Wallaciana
Erigeron Karvinskianus
Euphorbia 'Blue haze'
Euphorbia cyparissias 'Fens Ruby'
Euphorbia 'Goldener Turm'