Chelsea 18: Tom Stuart-Smith’s Weston Garden
The Chelsea veteran has created a feature in the Pavilion with recycled plants and materials
Winner of eight Gold medals and three Best in Shows, Tom Stuart-Smith MSGD last created a show garden at RHS Chelsea in 2010, and the excitement is building as he returns this year with a design to celebrate the Garfield Weston Foundation’s 60th anniversary. A family-founded charitable grant-making trust, the Foundation has formed a partnership with the RHS to create the Walled Garden at the new RHS Bridgewater Garden in Salford, which is also being designed by Stuart-Smith.
The ‘Weston Garden’ at Chelsea takes centre stage in the Grand Pavilion and is designed as an intimate and romantic private garden, which visitors will be encouraged to walk through. The design includes a rich diversity of texture, and creates a balance between enclosure and openness, with a secluded retreat at its centre, reflecting the Foundation’s open approach to charitable giving with a dedicated family at its heart.
Every feature in the ‘Weston Garden’ is recycled, including many of the plants, some of which have been used at previous Chelsea shows. “I decided to use recycled materials and plants because it seemed like a good opportunity to show how you can create a garden that produces negligible waste,” Stuart-Smith explains. “In the past, I’ve always been a little disturbed by the amount of waste generated, and while I was also looking around Crocus nursery, I noticed some wonderful plants that had been to Chelsea before and then forgotten. I felt rather sorry for them in a way!”
Plants are the stars of the show, with those from Crocus joined by more unusual species of Maianthemum, Polygonatum, Disporum and Rodgersia supplied by Crûg Farm Plants, whetting visitors’ appetite for something new. “The garden is quite a simple space but emphasises the restorative qualities of a garden, which has an air of maturity about it,” he says. “It’s also quietly contemporary, but very understated in terms of decoration and detail, relying almost entirely on plants to create spaces, textures and a sense of gradual discovery. Large clipped forms of box and yew create a strongly sculptural rhythm through the garden.”