The front cover of Country Life, April 19 2007, was headlined: Climate Change – What You Can Do. Inside the issue, one of Cadogan Estates’ gardens was reinterpreted in the light of climate change. As a result, Cadogan was interested to see how a traditional London square might look if it was visualised in a similar way, and invited Robert to create a show garden for Chelsea 2008.
01 Our Vision
Inspired by Country Life‘s climate change edition in April 2007, and in particular the prediction by an environmental consultant that “climate change will allow cultivation of produce normally restricted to warmer climes”, sponsor Cadogan Estates wanted a design that reflected this opportunity but interpreted it in a traditional English way.
Cadogan owned a number of public squares and gardens, and it was keen that the “experiment/ trial run would give us a chance to reflect on the issues involved.”
Based on this brief, our show garden represented a London Square of the future where climate change had transformed the traditional city garden of sunny lawns and ﬂower-ﬁlled borders into a garden of shade, lush planting and cooling water canals.
02 Our Process
A double canopy of palm trees created cool, shady conditions for planting below which included some tender and mainly drought-tolerant plants. Ivy clad wall panels suggested the ‘green architecture’ of neighbouring buildings.
03 The Outcome
We’re proud to say that the garden was awarded a gold medal by the RHS. Writing in The Telegraph, Sarah Raven said: “…the triumph of the garden [is] a series of pepper trees (Schinus molle). We all know that ornamental grasses give you all-important movement in a semi-formal garden, but these trees serve the same role 15ft up in the air. Every second they flicker and riffle like the water below and provide essential lightness to counteract the chunky solidity of the 25ft Chusan palms by their side. And the palms’ solidity was broken by the curve and twist of the Dryopteris wallachiana stems, planted in clumps below. This is a courtyard for a time when our climate has warmed up… but this dignified garden would be as beautiful in 50 years as it is now.”