CITY LIVING GARDEN

DESIGN Kate Gould SPONSOR Self funded CONTRACTOR Kate Gould Gardens

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"THIS MY EIGHTH Chelsea show garden – only two of them have been sponsored. Basically we paid for them through the business. My gardens have always been a bit different – largely because there’s only me to please!
"The design is a response to the fact that I’ve seen a lot of small city spaces being concreted over, so I wanted to show that people can make a small space green, even in the most built-up urban setting.
“It’s been a hell of a learning curve this year. My skillset has increased daily, from finding out about structural steel and concrete, to creating green walls from scratch.
“The steel frames for the building will be prefabricated off site – at the moment they’re just dots on the floor. Then, there will be plants in every part of the building. The design is basically a route through an apartment block, offering little viewing platforms and places to sit with water features to drown out the city noise. Hopefully it shows lots of ways to create new buildings with spaces for planting.
“I’ve taken inspiration from all those anonymous blocks of flats and small city spaces that people normally pave over. Yet with a bit of thought at the planning stage, developers can improve these spaces for people and wildlife – creating greener walls, greener corridors and greener rooftops. Not everything we’re doing here is viable on a grand scale but we’re trying to show what we can do to make city living more sustainable.

“The garden shows how to use rainwater harvesting to water green walls, and lighting that faces down to avoid creating unnecessary light pollution. We’re developing a new backlit fibreoptic concrete to create a wall with a soft glow so it can guide people around without creating light pollution at night.
“Our green wall is something we’ve developed ourselves too – using larger pockets to grow bigger plants. Mostly they’re leafy plants for shady situations, but we have used some borderline hardy tropical plants too. They’re shade tolerant lower down the wall and more sun-loving towards the top where they get more light. We’re using a lot of ferns and hostas so it’s predominantly green, but with blue and orange flowers as accents.
“The planting also includes two pollution-tolerant trees, buckthorn (Hippophae ramnoides) and multi-stemmed hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna). It all goes to show that no matter what size your garden is, you can always plant into it and it will look better.”