Tuesday morning, May 19th and it has just been announced that Dan Pearson’s ‘Chatsworth House’ garden has become the RHS Chelsea 2015 ‘Best in Show’. The social media world has been in a frenzy since last week, never before has a garden been so eagerly anticipated. Dan is regarded by many in the landscape world as inspirational and with an 11 year absence from Chelsea we all couldn’t wait to see what his return might bring.
…REWIND to September 29th 2014. A call from the Dan Pearson Studio to discuss the possibilities of growing a show standard turf for a ‘Derbyshire’ project. It was clear from the start that whilst this was going to be a man made project, it needed to feel like nature; it just so happened that our turf fitted the bill perfectly. With a number of visits from Peter Clay, Managing Director Of Crocus, we set aside a bed of our wildflower landscape turf, containing 34 native perennial species and hoped that the winter would be kind.
With show turf we must admit that our normal advice to the contractor would be to take the turf at least a month in advance in order to grow it on in a polytunnel, particularly with Chelsea being so early in the season. However the reality of nurturing 300m² of turf in a polytunnel was just too expensive. We allowed nature to do it’s thing and a burst of sunshine at the beginning of May soon got the pink campion popping and ready to transport up to the Royal Hospital Gardens in Chelsea.
….FORWARD to 12th May 2015 and we get the green light that the garden is ready to receive turf – a mere 6 days before the show opens. Using a specialist haulier, the turf was laid flat on stillages in order for the garden contractors to lay directly onto the site.
With sun out and excitement building we were very kindly invited up to have a look at the build by project manager for Crocus, Peter Harkett. Steel cap boots and luminous vests donned, we made our way to the triangular plot to see our wildflower turf being laid around the now famous deck area of the garden. Dan Pearson had also chosen Charlie Heyland and Mark Whyman, two exceptionally talented landscape contractors to oversee the build element.
Forward again… to now, we are imagining all of those that worked on the project lying down in a dark room. Undoubtedly to bring a show garden of this magnitude together is not for the feint hearted, the attention to detail is breath-taking and the team must have worked tirelessly to get the garden to perfection.
What has resulted from Dan Pearson’s passion for naturalism is a meeting point of horticulture and nature, a garden that is on the wild side, even though it is managed. Stepping into this garden he hoped would make you feel a step closer to nature and without a doubt it does. An interesting post from Andrew O’Brien summed it up perfectly. It is the balance of macro and micro design that leads to outstanding gardens. The macro view with the huge boulders forming the hard landscaping balanced with the micro detail that can be seen in the complex communities of wildflowers seen in the smallest six inch square of ground space is what makes this garden special. It is a feat of engineering, an incredible team exercise resulting in a stand out winner at Chelsea this year.
We salute you Dan Pearson!
Official photos taken from the RHS Chelsea pages