I am really pleased to see so much stone in the show gardens at Chelsea Flower Show. I love to see how each designer has used stone, they are all in such different ways. In the Best in Show garden by Cleve West, the Brewin Dolphin Garden we are faced with a grand entrance and two magnificent stone gateposts, built in a dry-stone-wall fashion, hung with impressive wrought gates.
I love the inviting pathway of smooth stone flags, with clever contrasting edges of cobbles and a water rill, and contrasting too with the rugged chunkyness of the gateposts. Such a clever idea to have the water running through the base of the gateposts in a little stone chanel (I've made lots of these for water features, or spouts to and from ponds).
The path forms a sort of pleasure runway with lush planting either side - once through the gate a feast of stone cobbles awaits and as if to pay the ultimate homage to stone, a great wall faces, in the style of the entrance gateposts, onto which a huge slab of stone is hung - split in two with a central hole, rough hewn - my goodness stone is the star here. Beautiful! I'm not sure I could have directed it better myself! I'm drawn in toward the hole and want to look through, and touch the stone. Then more smooth stone pathways with contrasting rugged stone and sublime planting. I've fallen deeply for this garden.
There are other gardens using stone too, as features and as hard landscaping - perhaps the most stoney, and with the most familiar landscape to me, is the Bronte's Yorkshire Garden.
The garden is based on a location the sisters used to visit to discuss their ideas and writing, which has become a popular tourist destination, as it is located on the path to the spot widely believed to be a setting for Wuthering Heights, Top Withens. The garden features a stream, a clapper bridge and elements of the landscape that are characteristic of the wild and windswept Pennine Moors. Very naturally and convincingly re-created. Congratulations to Aire Valley Landscapes, who were sponsored by Welcome to Yorkshire.
The M&G garden features stone too, the vast Purbeck Stone walls giving a perfect backdrop.
Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, the garden has a strong asymmetric quality. A series of formal paths and terraces combines with a water channel to create a succession of garden rooms. These are delineated by three monolithic stone walls.
The garden features natural, rustic materials including copper, oak and Purbeck stone, shown in their raw beauty. The focal point is the energy wave sculpture, crafted from copper rings, that weaves through the garden.
There are so many other gardens with lots of stone - will have to look at those another day. Stone has had a good show I think!