DESIGN Dr Catherine MacDonald SPONSOR Seedlip CONTRACTOR Landform Consultants Ltd
“WE WANTED to create a garden that represented the journey of Seedlip – the world’s first producer of non-alcoholic spirits, founded by Ben Branson. Ben came across a copy of The Art of Distillation 1651 – and noticing that apothecaries produced both alcoholic & non-alcoholic herbal remedies – began to experiment by distilling his own non-alcoholic spirits using a copper still and natural ingredients from his garden. He ended up solving the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking’.
“Copper & water play important role in the distillation process, so in my design we’re using copper pipes to carry water through the garden. At its heart is an open, oak & metal structure – representing on one side, a 17th century apothecary, and on the other a modern laboratory. This will be assembled on site. Copper rills run along the benches and in the middle there’s an abstract copper sculpture by Rupert Till that depicts the Seedlip journey.
“The planting palette is inspired by the plants listed in the Art of Distillation, Seedlip botanicals and other plants with herbal or medicinal properties in the Seedlip colours. It’s an unusual and challenging plant list – I will be combining both native & tropical plants in a conceptual rather than naturalistic planting scheme.
“I’ll be using lots of plants I’ve not worked with before, so I hope to have the chance to play around with combinations before I start planting on site!
“The Seedlip branding colours are copper, grey and green so we’re trying to use strong flowering colours in rusty orange tones as well as foliage in silvery greys and green.
“I have a preferred plant list and a secondary list to draw on too. The trees are lemon trees to reflect Seedlip’s use of citrus, and then there’ll be plants such as baptisia, rusty brown Digitalis laevigata, orange trollius ‘Dancing flame’, geum ‘Mai Tai’, calendula, aquilegia ‘Orange and Lemons’, ferns and (Glycyrrhiza glabra) whose roots are used to make liquorice, as well as climbers – hops and honeysuckle. The garden is only 4x9m so I don’t want to overfill it. It’s also a no-dig site, so the trees will be elevated in large copper rings that represent stills.”