It’s show time!
Sarah from The Garden Creative talks to conservation news about her 5-star award stand at the 2022 Chelsea Flower Show.
The famous Chelsea Flower Show began with a single marquee in 1913 under the name The Great Spring Show. It has grown in size and importance ever since, only halting for the World Wars, when in the Second World War the Royal Horticultural Society focused on their ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, and in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the premier event in horticulture. For garden and landscape designers and their sponsors, specialist nurseries, florists and specialist sellers it continues to be the world’s most prestigious flower show, proud to showcase British design and manufacturing.
This year The Garden Creative created something fresh and exciting for RHS Chelsea and gained a 5-star trade stand award.
Having first been asked in June 2021 to design a trade stand for Harrison Ovens, work was soon well underway involving metal workers, sail-makers and nurseries, to bring the vision to life for this year’s show.
Harrison Ovens are a local company, based on the coast in Ramsgate, hand-building exquisite charcoal ovens for use in the professional, and now home markets.
Natalie and Daniel Thumwood are the heart and hands behind the uniquely beautiful and highly functional ovens. Daniel Thumwood is an engineer and welder with a creative edge. A love of food, fascination with cooking over charcoal, and his general inventiveness are what led to him wanting to see if it were even possible to create an oven like this. After 3 years of hard work, the Harrison was born. There was nothing like it around – and still isn’t. Natalie Thumwood keeps the wheels turning and has skilfully marketed the ovens with great success. Richard Corrigan and Yotam Ottolenghi feature among their A-list clients as well as local Michellin-starred chef patron Ben Crittenden of Stark, Broadstairs.
Being based on the Kent coast they were keen to reflect this in the marketing of the Harrison at Home range, specially created to bring the professional kitchen to your home and garden.
As founder of The Garden Creative I design beautiful, naturalistic gardens inspired by the coastline in Whitstable, so what better combination to create a trade stand that reflects the wild beauty and unique place we live in and create from.
I wanted the design to be dynamic and fresh. Reflecting the North Kent coast and plants that grow here. The idea of foraging, the act of gathering wild food for free interests me greatly, it seemed perfect to combine foraged seashore food from the Kent coast with handmade charcoal ovens built along the same coastline.
Foraging has gained greater popularity in recent years, but for many thousands of years it was a necessity. Our ancestors would have foraged daily to survive and as recently as World War 2, wild rosehips were collected to make vitamin C syrup, in place of oranges that were embargoed. Nowadays foraging for food can add an unusual twist to your menu and even better than that has no packaging, no food miles and no food waste.
Nettles, Hawthorn, young Lime leaves and wild garlic are among spring delights to be discovered while later in the year edible flowers, delicious berries and juicy stone fruits ripen. Foraging along the seashore brings many unusual finds like Sea Kale, Sea beet and Samphire, along with seaweed, fennel and shellfish.
This idea goes hand in hand with the concept of repurposing materials and this is something that is important to both Harrison Ovens and The Garden Creative as we become ever aware of the need to reduce our carbon footprint. So we used a high percentage of reclaimed materials and gave new life to used timber and marine textiles. Old Kentish apple boxes and reclaimed scaffolding planks became the walls and retired racing sails a canopy. Edible Samphire, Sea Kale and Sea Purslain snuggle amongst shingle, pebbles and cockleshells beneath statuesque Hogs Fennel, a plant of Roman origins unique to our coastline along North Kent and Essex. The show launched a new range of colours for Harrison so my planting reflected this with plants like Cerinthe major purpurescens, Tuhlbaghia violacea and Borago officinalis.
We had a small but very talented team on board made up of Chris Duke from Whitstable based Ochre Gardens and Matt of Treehousecarpentry responsible for the hard landscaping while I concentrated on the design and the planting.
We had just under a week to build the stand and the whole operation is a massive undertaking, just getting all those vehicles and their loads into the fairly small site on Chelsea Embankment is a feat in itself. The atmosphere on site was electric. Having introduced ourselves to our neighbours either side we received a lot of invaluable advice from those that have been doing the show for many years and after just six days we had a beautiful trade stand that we could all be proud of. Being awarded 5-stars was a brilliant end to an incredible week. Thank you to all that were involved with the build, we are looking forward to doing it all again next year.