The Swiss Alpine Garden
Designer Sadie May Stowell takes time out to talk about her love for the Swiss Alps
Sadie is a regular show garden exhibitor at Hampton Court, and this year she’s back with a dramatic garden in the World of Gardens category. We asked if she was finding the task ahead at all mountainous!
Why are you bringing the Alps to England?
Actually, the British were the first tourists to discover the benefits of walking in the Swiss Alps some 150 years ago and Switzerland Tourism want to remind everyone what a fantastic summer destination they are.
How have you managed to represent the ‘Get Natural’, ‘Wellbeing’ and ‘The Year of Water' concepts in your garden?
It’s about holidays in Switzerland being healthy. They offer lots of beneficial activies – like walking and other outdoor pursuits. Plus the air is really clean and crisp and the environment is very natural. I wanted to provide a real feel of the high alpine landscape of Switzerland, so we are reflecting that environment as far as possible, but using plants and materials from the UK.
Tell me a bit more about it?
There are two areas that are rocky and craggy, inspired by the mountainside, so we are bringing in massive rocks to do them justice then there are alpine meadow areas with wild flowers and then in the middle there’s a glacial alpine lake with a trickling stream.
The Alps straddle a few countries; what’s going to make this garden Swiss?
We are going to be adding little bits of Switzerland, things they have that are recognisably Swiss, like the Swiss chalet which will be adorned with cowbells, typical Swiss walking signs, and if there’s still any doubt, the Swiss flag will be flying.
No Alphorns then?
Actually, there’s a good chance there will be one on press day!
What do you think visitors will enjoy most about the garden?
Its freshness and natural qualities. It’s not going to be showy – there’s no colourful herbaceous planting. The appeal is also in the detail, the beauty and delicacy of the alpine plants.
Will visitors be able to take ideas from it for their own gardens?
Well I think they can. I hope it inspires people to create some natural areas or perhaps even a rock garden. These sorts of features provide environments where different species can thrive and so they are brilliant for biodiversity.
So a mountainous task ahead?
Yes, it’s all quite rocky at the moment! But the reward for all the stress is seeing the garden finished at the end of it.