Designing a Garden for Chelsea Flower Show

Garden Design Workshop with Children
Children from Cedar Integrated Primary School were invited by Celia Spouncer, parent and lanscape architect, to design a garden for Chelsea Flower Show 2004.

The theme of the show was biodiversity and environmentally friendly gardening. The children worked on scaled drawings.

Celia Spouncer produced one design from all the children's ideas to include a pond, a chess set, woodland, glass house and art features.

The garden design was accepted by RHS judging panel. Children suggested titles for their graden designs. We called it 'A Dream Come True'.

Working with Artists
The Garden project had 2 key elements - working with the children and growing the plants.

We selected 6 local artists to work with every child in the school. Art projects were linked the garden themes and included ceramics, decoupage, designs on linen and willow sculpture.

Children created collages from disused gardening magazines. Images were printed onto tiles and used to create cubes.

Every child in the school was involved in the Chelsea Garden Project through art, movement and poetry.

Designing a Garden for Chelsea Flower Show

The Plants
There are many lovely stories about the plants grown for the garden. Children helped to grow and pot on some plants.

Plants selected were native to Ireland and to increase biodiversity. Even the very ordinary daisy had pride of place.

Celebratory Plant Pots were created out of chicken wire and plaster wrap inspired by the shape of seed pods.

Each plant was nurtured until ready for the show - potted up, put in the shade or put in the sun. By the middle of May we had a wonderful selection of quality plants.

An Exhibition of the Artwork
A week to go before the show, we exhibited all the artwork and some of the plants at the Down Arts Centre.

Original artwork and final pieces for the garden went on display for everyone to see.

The water feature - to be powered by a solar panel - was amde out of copper in the shape of a flag iris.

One week before the show, friends and parents helped to pack everything very carefully and load it into a removal van. Thankfully it all fitted in!

Building a Hemp Wall
We had 7 days to build the 5m square 'City' garden. A traditional building technique using hemp and lime mortar. A wall frame and shuttering was set up first and then packed with the hemp mixture.

The wall took three days to construct. It was finished with a lime render. The show rules meant it had to be a certain height. We used curves at the front.

Time for a photo as the team spirit builds up!

We were fortunate to have an end wall and were able to create a window onto the hemp base.

Creating the Garden
Show gardens are generally built up from ground level onto the grass of the site. A sand-lime mix is used to set the chess set in and to create a higher level.

Journalists from around the world stop to watch the progress of the show gardens being constructed.

The show organiser allows us to dig a small hole to allow the sump for the water feature.

The garden shapes up well fitting well onto the site. The curved wall means we can place some plants outside the wall within our 5m allocation.


The garden is complete
A fairytale garden is created in 7 days within a 5m square. Amazingly plants are in flower in time for the RHS judges.

Seed plant vessels, art cubes and linen backdrops look spectacular for press day and gala.

Plants looked spectacular in the plant 'vessels'. Ceramic mini beasts created by P1 and P2 children adorned the garden.

The garden features on the BBC Chelsea Flower Show programme. An entourage of press visit for photographs and interviews.

Thanks to all those involved - A fantastic achievement
Sir Bob Geldof visits before the show opens. He loves it - especially the wonderful organic wall.

Diarmuid Gavin and Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen are filmed in the garden and sign the visitors book.

It is a delight to invite my father and David Bellamy, my botany lecturer at Durham University, to visit the garden.

The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal. Thousands of people enjoyed the delights of this collaborative and inspirational project demonstrating how young people can be involved in landscape design initiatives. Huge thanks to all those who helped.