RHS Chelsea Flower Show

23 – 27 May 2017

Brewin Dolphin designer interview

This is Rosy Hardy’s first show garden, yet she holds more Chelsea gold medals than any other exhibitor

Rosy Hardy – My Chelsea Flower Show

Rosy HardyThis year, Rosy has left husband Rob in the Great Pavilion on the perennially triumphant Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants’ display and is breaking new ground on Main Avenue with a garden for Brewin Dolphin.

How did you tackle the brief from Brewin Dolphin?
Brewin Dolphin’s business is all about investing, protection and planning for the future and this garden encourages visitors to recognise the fragility and importance of our English chalk streams. Our nursery is situated on chalk downland around the River Test, which is a classic example.

Why chalk streams?
The water that flows through the area is of such purity that it has been used for watermarking all of our banknotes since the custom started. The garden demonstrates the quality of the water, but points out that unless we look after and invest in it, this important resource will cease to exist.

Is it a design that people could draw on for inspiration for their own gardens?
Absolutely. The plants we are using are obviously suited for chalk and flint soils and this includes large parts of the country. The majority of herbaceous perennials love alkaline soil.

How are you showing the presence of chalk in your garden?
Chalk is formed over millions of years from the skeletons of phytoplankton. We have referenced the skeletons using wire gabions filled with chalk and flint. The sculpture through which the path winds represents a coccosphere, which is how the individual phytoplanktonic organisms group together.

You are the most successful individual female exhibitor at Chelsea to date, with Gold Medals earned for your nursery displays. Is your show garden a larger version of what you’ve been doing in the Great Pavilion for so many years?
Well probably. Certainly in terms of the planting, just on a larger scale with more trees and shrubs. I’m keen to show a more plant-centric style of show garden, using plants that people can actually grow in their own gardens.

Is this new experience proving stressful?
Well, I’m certainly kicking myself for agreeing to do the one inside the Great Pavilion as well! I think I’ve got a lot to prove and I’m really going to try to get a Gold Medal to continue the succession.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.