Landscape architect Liz Ackerley reveals her favourite elements of 2013 RHS Tatton Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 09:29 10 September 2013 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 February 2016

Art in the garden: this blue screen creates a stunning backdrop

Art in the garden: this blue screen creates a stunning backdrop

not Archant

Landscape architect Liz Ackerley is full of inspiration following her visit to RHS Tatton. She reveals her 
favourite elements of this year’s show

RHS Tatton is among my favourite shows in the garden diary. This year we were treated to 30 exciting show gardens, many from Cheshire designers. Shows are great for the inspiration we can take away from them, to illustrate ideas that we need to be brave enough to use within our own gardens: it’s these that made my favourite gardens stand out from the crowd.

Louise Harrison-Holland’s ‘Remember to Reflect’ garden (Alzheimer’s society), supported by Cheshire Life, received a well deserved gold metal for the creation of a garden that a couple, one suffering from Alzheimer’s, can enjoy together. Its cleverness is in the ‘soft minimalism’ approach: simplicity and cleanness of sandstone, used with impressive attention to detail for all hard elements including the seat, paving and stepping stones of the reflective pool, softened with stunning sensory planting all reflecting beautifully in the dark water.

Wilmslow-based Louise said: ‘First and foremost I wanted to create a beautiful garden in itself rather than for people suffering from an illness’.

‘I was always very clear on the combination of plants I wanted to create the effect, with soft billowy grasses and areas of colour, the pine trees are an important unusual element’ enthused Louise. Full of movement, light, texture and intense clean colours of achilleas, coneflowers and chocolate cosmos, this is a space that most people could enjoy as delighted crowds illustrated.

The idea of strong lines of hard landscaping, softened with sensory planting was also beautifully illustrated by ‘Networks’ garden (Cancer Research) and the St Luke’s Cheshire Hospice Silver Anniversary’ garden created by students of Reaseheath College, near Nantwich. A curved path, leading to a cleverly placed seat with grass and wildflower meadow banks enabled the college students to show off their landscaping skills to illustrate a patient’s journey.

‘Escape to the City’ by Tony Woods achieved well-deserved gold and Young Designer of the year. Tony said: ‘I am originally from the North West and this was always my local design show, I loved it, it feels like I have come full circle’.

He used reclaimed and new wood and stone, arranged vertically and horizontally to achieve a divided useable modern urban space and prove that ‘eco’ can also be well crafted and chic. Practical yet stylish, the naturalistic planting, for shade, and sun, was teaming with insects, and there was even a space for food growing.

Leon Davis and Brendon Vaughan also illustrated this strong attention to detail in materials use with their Gravitational Pull Galaxy concept garden. It was easy to imagine how the stunning wooden cone structure and the beautifully detailed metal water rill could be translated in a garden setting.

A number of gardens showed examples of innovative boundary treatments as inspiration for our own spaces, either using plants, such as the blue rose climbing on steel wires in the ‘Stainless Century’ garden and the Ivy wall grown on a wire frame in the ‘Splash’ garden. Others used interesting materials including the blue painted screens in the ‘Sound Idea’ garden or the wall made from recycled green bottles in the ‘GreEnCO Sense’ garden.

Another idea repeated in several gardens, incorporated aromatic or succulent plants between paving, on walls and roofs. Thyme and chamomile were used within paving on several gardens: these release their oils when brushed and can even be used as an alternative to lawn in smaller low foot traffic areas. The ‘Star Gazer’s retreat garden included a sedum roof on an observatory structure, showing how this could be easily applied to a shed or outhouse.

Liz Ackerley is a chartered landscape architect and garden designer who has recently established Poppyhead Consultancy garden and landscape design. The practice, which delivers contemporary garden design across Cheshire and the North West is based in Manchester. Recently Poppyhead won Small Business Sunday (SBS) run by Theo Paphitis for their design makeover offers. Poppyhead Consultancy works with both private clients and developers and offers design services as well as content writing provision.; contact tel: 0161 745 7890 or mobile: 07941035298


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