Capturing the essence of place

The Trailfinders 50th Anniversary Garden was designed for Chelsea 2020 to illustrate the culture, plants and landscape of Nepal and the Himalayan foothills – a representation of the spirit of place in a garden

Many plant hunters travelled and collected extensively in this region in the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing back to the UK a huge number of plants that we know well. The conditions in the wider Himalayan region are damp, predominantly shady, fertile and slightly acidic – perfectly suited to the climate in many parts of the UK.

Planting up the garden

The plants I selected for the Trailfinders Garden typically occur in the temperate zone between 2,000 and 4,000m above sea level. Pinus wallichiana (also known as the Bhutan pine) is a common sight in the Himalayas. This tree species along with Betula utilis (silver birch) and Cedrus deodara were to form the backbone of the planting in the garden. Rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal, typically blooms around this time of year and was to be included too.

Thriving in damp shady conditions

Ferns are present nearly everywhere, and in the garden I planned to incorporate Dryopteris wallichiana (alpine wood fern). These would have been planted in rough drifts, sometimes acting as a matrix for taller flowering plants. Also enjoying the damp, shady conditions are rodgersias, euphorbias, primulas, Meconopsis (Himalayan poppy), irises and arisaemasRosa sericea pteracantha (winged thorn rose), which has delicate ferny foliage with red translucent thorns was to be included. This arching shrub rose, with beautiful white flowers, is perfect for other plants to grow through. 

Jonathan Snow Landscape & Garden Design

Jonathan Snow | 020 7371 9475

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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.