THE JOURNAL FOR THE SOCIETY OF GARDEN DESIGNERS

Chelsea 18: Sarah Eberle’s ‘India: A Billion Dreams’ Garden

British Council Garden - India: A Billion Dreams. Designed by: Sarah Eberle. Sponsored by: British Council. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Photo: The RHS


The most decorated designer in Chelsea history presents a garden for the UK India Year of Culture


Sarah Eberle FSGD returns this year for the British Council with the first Indian Garden to be created at the show this century, to mark the end of the UK India Year of Culture, which launched at Buckingham Palace in February 2017. The Artisan category garden represents the historic and increasingly contemporary ties between the two nations, with a particular reference to flowers and cricket.


Eberle’s design celebrates world-famous cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar, who has inspired a generation of young Indians to aspire to national and international recognition through hard work and education. Her ideas were influenced by the 2017 documentary film on the life of Tendulkar, Sachin: A Billion Dreams. “It is a fabulous and moving documentary film and it really inspired me and fired my enthusiasm,” she says.


Sarah Eberle FSGD


For 3,000 years, plants, seeds, and textiles have made their way from India along trade routes across the world, and these aspects of the country’s rich heritage are echoed in the Chelsea garden. “The layout takes some inspiration from the Mughal courtyard gardens in the north of India,” she says. “And the design also includes pietra dura marble work and paintings produced by artisans in India, as well as a pool, grass crease and giant cricket stumps that act as columns.”

The flowers in her design have great significance in Indian gardens. The rose is the flower of the Mughals, the tulip was prized by court painters, and the Himalayan blue poppy (Meconopsis) grows wild in the foothills of this iconic mountain range, and was first exhibited at Chelsea in 1926. Other plants woven into the design include the blue vanda orchid, which comes from the Khasi Hills; marigolds, used to make garlands for festive occasions; and the sacred lotus flower, which is significant in many religions in India.

Eberle is also designing her third garden exhibit for Hillier in the Grand Pavilion. Tool manufacturer STIHL is co-sponsoring the garden, and it will be broken down into a number of smaller themed sections, with corten steel throughout, and orange and blue flowering plants adding warmth alongside Hillier’s mature trees and shrubs.