DESIGN Fiona Cadwallader SPONSOR Self funded CONTRACTOR Landform Consultants
"AS A POETRY LOVER I wanted to create a garden for a solitary reader seeking a tranquil and meditative space to read, reflect and be inspired by poetry and the garden around them. I’ve taken my inspiration from a poem by Samuel Coleridge, This Lime Tree Bower my Prison, which echoes my own belief that you can enjoy natural wonders everywhere, if you’re open to them.
“The garden has a mix of contemporary and more traditional garden features. I’ve designed the metal sculptural elements myself, including a gate, water feature and a chaise longue. They’re made of stainless steel; the steel float is finished with a concrete centre panel for a modern twist to the garden which otherwise has a traditional formality to it, with the beautiful dry stone wall and limestone paving.
“There are contrasts in the planting too. Four large topiaried lime trees create a relaxing simplicity to the design, while the mounds and spires of shade-loving perennials and shrubs underneath have a softer, less formal feel. These are intermingled with edibles, as referenced in Coleridge’s poem. Broad beans, fruit trees and strawberry plants create a sense of a cottage garden. Then there is the delicate simplicity of the wildflowers in the orchard at the back of the garden, which hint at natural pastures beyond.
“This is my first ever Chelsea Garden and there are many challenges for me. I’m creating it without a sponsor so it’s a big financial commitment but an incredible opportunity to be part of the world’s most prestigious flower show. I designed the water feature myself too, and it’s a highly complex design to get just right. I don’t want to take any chances so we’re creating a prototype that will be fully tested before the show.
“Within the planting there’s always the concern about which plants will be ready to perform in May. My biggest concern is the four stunning lime trees that we’ll be pruning into gently curving domes on site as they’re best done in leaf, which will be a little nerve wracking. Also, their root balls differ in size but need to be exactly level. There will be a degree of creative ground work required to make sure their four domes just kiss each other gently at the top.
“I suspect that within the rich tapestry of perennials and shrubs, the selection of peonies and iris will be stars of the show, alongside beauties like the Kirengeshoma palmata which is a shade-loving perennial with large leaves and dark purplish stems picking up the colours in Coleridge’s poem – the ‘dark branches’ and ‘purple shadows’. There will also be delicate wild flowers in the meadow at the back of the garden which will, I hope, be at their best in May.”
This Lime-tree Bower my Prison
Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge;—that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.
Now, my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path along the dusky air
Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.