Design Catherine MacDonald Sponsor Seedlip Distillery Build Landform Consultants Theme A celebration of the humble pea
“My brief this year was quite simple: a garden that celebrates the pea! There are three main lines of inspiration – the first is that the garden’s sponsor, Ben Branson, comes from a family with a 300-year history of farming, and peas are among the crops they grow. They’re also a key ingredient in one of Seedlip’s non-alcoholic distillations, Garden 108.
“Second, it’s an opportunity to pay tribute to Dr Calvin Lamborn, who bred the first sugarsnap pea in the 1960s. Sadly he died last year, but we visited his family’s farm in Idaho and came back armed with lots of unusual peas including three new cultivars.
“Third, my background is in genetics, so here I’ve referenced the work of Gregor Mendel who bred peas to establish the laws of inheritance. I’ve divided the 10x10m (33x33ft) garden into 16 squares, representing how breeding crosses are presented.
“All the plants are members of the pea family, Fabaceae. For instance, the three trees are multistem Japanese pagoda trees (Styphnolobium japonica) together with the carob tree Ceratonia siliqua.
“The herbaceous planting underneath includes edible and ornamental plants in yellow, red and purple – the colours of sugar snap and snow pea pods. These include lupin ‘Masterpiece’, baptisia ‘Carolina Moonlight’ and ‘Twilight Prairie’, and also Trifolium incarnatum from the clover genus. For height I’ve included laser-cut metal columns with sweet peas growing up them – such as Lathyrus odoratus ‘Beaujolais’.
“The front façade of our pea pavilion – or peavilion! – comprises green metal tubes welded together to make a screen. The green roof is a lawn made from garden pea shoots – Pisum sativum.
“The main challenge this year stems from the fact I’m limiting myself to one plant family. I’ve never done it before but at least Fabaceae is the third largest so they’re very important for pollinators and especially bumblebees. If nothing else, the garden reveals the sheer beauty and diversity of the pea family.”