Every detail spoke to me: the rich yet restrained color palette, the clear geometry bringing order, the use of the diagonal axis to expand perception of space, the layering of plants and of materials and the exquisite metal design used both for the pavilion and rill. I stood trying to absorb it all for at least half an hour – one benefit of being able to attend the show on Media Preview Day. I was allowed the luxury of time to mentally immerse myself in this space.
For once, the theme was not based on some random (to me) traveler, political statement, or trend. This Morris & Co. Show Garden was quite simply based on the designs of Victorian designer William Morris. Designed by Ruth Willmott the design is influenced by his two most iconic patterns; Trellis (1864) and Willow Boughs (1887).
Key Design Elements
Having explained that, you will immediately recognize the rectilinear trellis design was the driving force behind the garden layout which was then enhanced by elevating portions for added interest.
Having the pavilion on the higher grade increases its presence as a focal point, especially as this is placed on the diagonal axis within the overall square footprint of the garden. Likewise, stepping up the height of the pavilion for one section makes this especially eye-catching. Very clever!
I also really liked the stacked stones used for the walls and step risers, together with the difference in colors. The wide but short stones re-enforce the overall layered detail – perfect choice.
Of course the most eye-catching design detail is the intricate metal screens, posts and panels used in the pavilion and rill, a clear reference to Morris' Willow Boughs design, a personal favorite of mine.
The repetition keeps the eye moving through the space. Had this only been used on the pavilion as wall screens the designer may have caused us all to focus entirely on those – and miss the myriad delights within the garden itself.
Chosen to reflect Morris' love of color, the earthy-reds, blues and silvers are a delight while soft apricot accents add a gentleness.
Layering and textures
From the canopy of trees with twining roses to cottage garden perennials and carpeting groundcovers, from the statement of bold foliage to the wispiness of fine grasses: this is a garden to be savored slowly.
Well deserving of its gold medal, this is a garden which will continue to delight as its legacy will be to seed several new community gardens in London.
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