Wirral garden designers head to the Beijing Horticultural Expo

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 April 2019

One of Pip's garden designs

One of Pip's garden designs

Pip Probert

Garden designers from Wirral will showcase their talents in China this month, writes Linda Viney

Their garden at the Ascot Spring Garden Festival won the people's choice awardTheir garden at the Ascot Spring Garden Festival won the people's choice award

Pip Probert’s passion for art took root when she was a small child and has grown into a garden design business which is starting to blossom.

As a young girl she would take photographs then draw and paint from them. Little did she realise this would lead to her designing a garden at the Beijing Horticultural Expo which opens this month.

‘It almost feels like a dream,’ Pip said. ‘I have always been ‘arty’ and many of my friends went on to study graphic design which I thought I would enjoy. But I had always loved plants and nature and ended up at the Welsh Horticultural College and studied garden design.

‘I was among 30 designers selected to submit designs and mine ‘Multiple Rooms’ was one of seven international show gardens to be chosen for the event, which will be held on the old Olympic site until October.’

A 3d model of the garden for the Beijing Horticultural Expo which opens this monthA 3d model of the garden for the Beijing Horticultural Expo which opens this month

Pip has been in business for 16 years and as well as a designer is a plantswoman so she can choose plants that will withstand the elements they have to cope with. This was very much in her mind when selecting plants for Beijing as she selected reliable plants that would fit in with her design.

As it included rooms, she was able to showcase different aspects, all of which had a modern influence which visitors would be able to relate to. The tree ferns add stature as does the flowing cherry, while herbaceous including salvias, foxgloves and aster fill the borders with added interest from the shrubs like the smoke bush (Cotinus). Planted pots alongside a colourful wall show how colour can be incorporated with landscaping as well as flowers.

She and her business partner Wez Salthouse – a construction specialist – have co-ordinated the creation of the garden over Skype, but will fly out to Beijing to add the finishing touches.

Their business, Outer Spaces, is based in Birkenhead and their Expo garden will help grow their reputation which was also boosted when theirs was one of six gardens awarded a plot by a team of judges at last year’s first ever Ascot Spring Garden Festival.

One of Pip's garden designsOne of Pip's garden designs

Pip added: ‘We were delighted when Yardley of London, who are based not far from the showground, came on board. Inspired by our visit to their offices we were able to show the importance of fragrance in the garden.’

Shortly after returning from Beijing they will head to Edinburgh to help the students at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh build their first show garden at Gardening Scotland. And then they’ll be preparing for this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Tatton Flower Show.

‘I love meeting and talking to visitors at the shows and many of them have become our clients,’ Pip said. ‘After all, a passion for plants and gardens brings people together. Last year’s garden at RHS Tatton ‘Jungle Fever’ was awarded a Silver Medal and a huge amount of public interest, it was one of our favourites; full of colour with a mix of the exotic with everyday plants plus a beautiful glass building and hand made feature wall.’

Apart from a range of private garden projects they have also been involved in public spaces and some commercial work, giving them plenty of variety as well as challenges.

Pip's RHS Tatton garden last year was a winner, on reflectionPip's RHS Tatton garden last year was a winner, on reflection

‘Wez and I are able to bring a combination of design, planting and landscaping under one roof,’ Pip said. ‘We garden for people and listen to what the clients want, guiding them long the way, we have even had hour long debates about washing lines and bins! These are everyday problems faced when designing a garden.’

This year’s RHS Tatton Flower Show will be held from Wednesday July 17 to Sunday July 21.

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