Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Had I read the background on The Boodles Travel Garden , designed by Tom Hoblyn ahead of time I'd have struggled to comprehend it on that level, trying to determine which plant represented which country for example. Even now, truthfully, the written concept does nothing for me other than indicate that the plant palette is from around the world, based loosely on the circumnavigation of the globe by someone I'd never heard of, back in 1962….
Instead, ignorance allowed me to immerse myself in the design and let it speak to me without any script, and as such I loved it. This pint-sized oasis was filled with ideas for the home gardener and I returned to photograph it several times during my visit to the Show. Here are the key design elements that I loved.
The Use of Forced Perspective
The incorporation of a shallow river in this garden and the way it was used to give the illusion of a much larger space was genius. It meanders in voluptuous oxbow-like curves around generous, mounded planting peninsulas. The eye naturally follows its lazy journey through the small garden while the brain assumes this must be a much larger garden after all.
Visitors primarily view the stream from an exposed clearing downstream. Looking back to the river source, the width of the river has been deliberately narrowed suggesting it must be much farther away. Likewise the oxbows become less pronounced upstream. Very clever!
The planting beds have been mounded, this slight change in grade allowing views to be partially obscured. Those tantalizing glimpses of a sitting nook again added to the illusion of space.
The Use of Texture
That stream bed was so well done – notice the texture of the river bed that suggests ripples even as it allows for slight turbidity in the flow of water. I have no idea what they used and can't seem to find a reference to it. If you have any ideas do tell me in a comment below!
Of course the plant textures were a treat too. Iris siberica 'Caesar's Brother' punctuated the mossy carpet of Selaginella kraussiana. Bold leaved hosta contrasted with lacy ferns. Japanese maples, Acer pensylvanicum, and a dogwood tree provide the canopies under which these and other shade-loving perennials would thrive. Many of these plants can be grown in temperate regions around the world so this could be re-created with only a few modifications.
Details, details…..the wall was stamped with lacy ferns too!
Restraint in Color
This is essentially a garden of green with just a few pops of blue iris and golden-yellow Primula bulleyana to move the eye through the space. Dusky maroon tones of the wall are repeated in some foliage, most notably of the dogwood.
This was my second favorite Sanctuary Garden at the RHS CHelsea Flower Show this year. Did you miss my top pick? It may surprise you! You can read about it here.
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