Cotswold garden designers win gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

PUBLISHED: 12:49 21 May 2019

Paul Hervey-Brookes (c) Mandy Bradshaw

Paul Hervey-Brookes (c) Mandy Bradshaw


It’s gold all the way for Cotswold designers at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Chris Beardshaw and Paul Hervey-Brookes have once again got top awards at the world-famous show.

It's Chris' fourth gold medal designing for Morgan Stanley and Paul's third for a Viking Cruises garden.

"People always get rather obsessed about what colour medal you're getting," says Chris, who now has eight Chelsea golds. "For me the most important thing is standing a few rows back and listening to the comments because you know instantly from what's being said whether you managed to achieve what you set out to achieve.

"I'm pleased not just with the medal but pleased that people fall in love with the garden."

Chris Beardshaw (c) John CampbellChris Beardshaw (c) John Campbell

Paul says he's delighted with the success, which he puts down to teamwork. In particular, he singles out landscaper Andrew Ball of Big Fish Landscapes in Ross-on-Wye, who worked with him on his first few Chelsea gardens.

"I'm thrilled that Andrew and I are reunited after a four-year gap and I'm pleased that his work and his belief in the idea has paid off."

The Morgan Stanley Garden explores how to create a garden that uses minimal resources while not compromising on beauty.

The Art of the Viking Garden by Paul Hervey-BrookesThe Art of the Viking Garden by Paul Hervey-Brookes

"At every point in the design process we tried to go for the most sustainable, the most resource efficient option," explains Chris.

These include using UK-grown plants, grown in recycled and recyclable taupe pots, LED lights, petroleum and plastic-free paint, compressed softwood rather than hardwood for the relaxation pod, and the world's first electric excavator during the build.

"We had the most silent site during the build process."

It has many of the classic English garden elements: trees punctuating the planting, topiary framing views and masses of herbaceous perennials - one of Chris' trademarks. The colour scheme sees smoky greys and purples set against pinpoints of vibrant colour.

Judi Dench and Paul Hervey-Brookes on the Viking Cruises' 'The Art of Viking Garden' at RHS Chelsea Flower Show' (c) Richard YoungJudi Dench and Paul Hervey-Brookes on the Viking Cruises' 'The Art of Viking Garden' at RHS Chelsea Flower Show' (c) Richard Young

It's a series of curves and undulating planting around a central canal, illustrating what Chris describes as a "move away from the conventional straight line of extract, consume and discard".

"The geometry and geography of the garden is very much one of angles turning into curves."

The components of the garden will be reused in community projects in London.

The Viking Cruises Garden is inspired by artwork found on their ships, in particular the paintings of Jakob Weidemann and ceramic plates by Anette Krogstad. The latter are echoed in concrete that has been glazed by artist Roger Ellis.

Reminiscent of a water meadow, it has layers of planting ranging from pollarded willow down to ground-hugging trollies, with streams running through.

"It has little flashes of colour," explains Paul, who has won seven RHS gold medals in a row. "The planting is quite naturalistic, not blingy, it's quite quiet."

Set into the planting are striking steel sculptures, designed by Paul, that give glimpses through the garden.

At one end, two chairs set against a log wall give a place to sit and enjoy the garden.

Chris was persuaded back to Chelsea by Morgan Stanley, having said that last year's gold and Best in Show garden was his last. He is not planning to be back at Chelsea next year. Paul, meanwhile, has already started building a garden for Brewin Dolphin at RHS Chatsworth next month.

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