RHS GREENING GREY BRITAIN

DESIGNER Nigel Dunnett SPONSOR Royal Horticultural Society CONTRACTOR Landform Consultants

"MY BRIEF FOR THIS garden was simply to express the principles of the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign. As we discussed it further we developed this more widely to also use the garden to reach wider audiences than what might be regarded as the typical RHS member or Chelsea Flower Show visitor, so the garden is set in a very urban context, of apartment blocks and high density living, with balconies and small ground floor terraces, and a large communal garden. There will be lots of take-home ideas and inspirational details for gardeners of all types, and the garden will also show creative, innovative and exciting ways of environmental and sustainable gardening.
“I took design inspiration from the urban context, thinking about as many different ways as possible to bring plants and green into everyday life, and to find ways of bringing plants and gardening into the smallest of spaces. I wanted this to be a very contemporary garden, rather than a ‘rustic’ type of eco garden. And the garden also brings in the principles of sustainable rainwater management. It’s full of naturalistic, informal planting and as a contrast to this I wanted to use strong shapes and forms for the paths and hard surfaces. 
“We’re working with a real street artist to make an urban installation as a very dramatic feature in the garden, and we are working with habitat and wildlife structures in a very artistic way.
"The key plants are Sambucus nigra ‘Gerda’.  Rosa rubrifolia.  Corylus maxima ‘Purpurea’.  Iris ‘Gerald Darby’.  Armeria maritima.  Sesleria nitida – using a palette of pinks, purples, whites and blues
"We’re using concrete in many different forms - recycled municipal paving slabs re-used as a smart form of crazy paving.  Poured black concrete. We have an edible table - a meeting table that will sit 8-10 people with apple trees growing through and herbs.
"The biggest challenge is that we’re working with a new type of low-cost, low-water use temporary living wall, and it’s a little bit experimental, so we have our fingers crossed that it will all work out!"