Chelsea Debut With Poetry Lovers Artisan Garden
Gardens in the ‘Artisan’ category at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are often quite traditional and whilst there are certainly historic literary inspirations and references in this garden there are also some striking modern elements such as the stainless steel water feature and curvaceous chaise, both designed by Fiona whose talents also extend to product and interior design.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem This Lime Tree Bower my Prison was the starting point for Fiona’s design. The beautiful sentiment expressed by the poem echoed Fiona’s own belief that one can find natural wonders everywhere if only one has an appreciation for nature.
In the poem Coleridge alludes to a time when injury prevented him from enjoying the countryside with his friends. He talks of the little lime tree bower in which he is seated as a prison, a place where he can only imagine the beautiful sights that his friends are seeing.
By the poem’s end however, Coleridge no longer sees himself as a prisoner and, is able to enjoy the nature of his surroundings whilst seeing himself imaginatively connected to the wider world that his friends are experiencing.
Fiona’s garden design cleverly references the colour and light effects evoked in the poem. The beautiful planting boasts lime, yellow, dark green, blue, purple and black. The paler, more transparent, sunny, radiant and blue-clay tones are in the materials such as stainless steel, water, limestone and concrete. the lime trees, waterfall and beanflowers are obvious allusions but the designer’s chief aim is to evoke the uplifting spirituality of the poem’s dramatic conclusion.
The imagined client enjoys a tranquil retreat, and on returning home from work likes to sit outside reading poetry to the sound of moving water. The stainless steel fountain, lit by fibre optics, alludes to the waterfall in the poem and provides contrasting sparkle and holds a mirror to the soul. Balanced on an orb, the chaise longue allows the reader to float on the power of imagination. Polished concrete represents ease, modernity and reflection. Ivy-clad dry stone walls evoke the Quantock Hills and provide a measure of seclusion.
Umbrella-shaped lime trees reference the poem's bower and provide dappled shade. Leaf combinations contrast soft mounds of honey-scented euphorbia with delicate spires of other bee-friendly plants. Fritillary-filled pots sway gracefully in the breeze, gently harmonising with the waterfall. The overhanging trees of the Artisan Gardens setting provide a backdrop to orchard trees and enhance the sense of enclosure. Gates offer escape into the liminal world of Thomas Poole’s orchard and the fruits of human contact which Coleridge valued so highly.
The Poetry Lovers garden will be a charming, meditative space that will transport visitors away from life’s commotion and offer a peaceful retreat into nature.