The garden explores themes of progress, evolution and thought patterns through materials. Its planting draws inspiration from the bleak heathland surrounding the College in Crowthorne village and simultaneously highlights the plight of this habitat – one of the most threatened in the world and so often disregarded, yet in the case of Wellington College the place in which thousands of students have and will flourish.
Tall, sculptural and transparent walls run through the garden connecting the various elements and materials. Water echoes this flow in the main pool and rills running below the wall structures.
The design also references the synaptic activity governing our thought process and triggering cognitive connections and responses, facilitating the formation of ideas and concepts. An ornamental meadow featuring planting that explodes with sparkling umbels and dramatic flower and plant forms that echoes synaptic events and trains of thought.
Majestic, aged hawthorn and birch trees are chosen for their individuality and special quality, another nod to the educational philosophy at Wellington.
A central feature of the garden is the series of the monumental, transparent, steel walls. The 4m high structures express the concept of disappearing walls of private education. 170 students from the family of Wellington College schools in the UK and in China have hand written personal messages about their visions for the next century. These ideas are etched onto the wall in an explosive, wave-like manner. Following the Show, the wall will be reconstructed at the new arts building at the College.
The garden won a gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 in the show Garden category.
The garden explores the concept of silence – an increasingly valuable experience or state of mind in a world full of noise, sound or sensory overload.
Inspired by the natural world we have abstracted individual elements, surfaces and materials to create a sense of detachment, a spiritual and atmospheric place that uses simple combinations of hard and soft materials.
The central space is wrapped and formed by a monumental spiral of distressed concrete render that creates the necessary sense of separation from the outside world. The inverted cone sits within the allowed plot but opens into a wider form to a dramatic play of light and shadow and an exhilarating feeling of space. Show visitors can peep into the garden through Morse Code messages punctured through the wall at different eye levels. Key views open up where the walls meet and overlap but also through the narrow slit in the higher walls. The entrance is obscure to create a greater sense of drama as one enters the calm space within.
A group of rain trees, Samanea saman, spreads over the garden and entrance creating shadow patterns and elegant widening branches to give shade and dappled light, an important role in Singapore. The fissured concrete paving is planted with ground hugging plants and mosses to soften the tread and to green the space. Foliage planting softens the outer edges of the garden too creating a feeling of re-colonisation of the crushed and broken concrete.
A boulder provides a seat facing a low crucible of water that shimmers and reflects the light changes within the garden. A narrow aperture or slit provides changing reflections in the pool. Hidden lighting creates a continuous glow on the faces of the curved walls.
Winner of Gold for best Show Garden APLD Awards 2017
Marking the 200th anniversary of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo and Wellington’s College’s role as his living legacy, the garden progresses from the bleakness and brutality of the Battle of Waterloo 200 years ago, through the greening and flowering of the landscape towards an a representation of the iconic architecture of Wellington College, the memorial to the Duke of Wellington. The garden’s design reconciles the drama and violence of the battle with a progressive and positive future. Elements of the garden are inspired by the landscape and terrain of Waterloo which Wellington used to his advantage, the battle formations that successfully repelled attack, the regimental colours of British and Allied troops, the eight aptitudes central to the teaching of the College and the materiality of the College itself, marked with the personal carvings of current pupils and alumni. Designers Gavin McWilliam and Andrew Wilson
The concept of the Sacred Grove lies at the core of our design, the universal concept of a space that is both spiritual and reflective explored through the conjugation of simple elements composed to create focus and meaning. The garden explores light and shadow and the basic elements of water, light and air.The relationships of the man-made and the natural environment are also central to the design, creating cooling shade and a water absorbent green roof on which a grove of trees is held aloft adding drama to the design. Elegant poles support the raised garden allowing the space below to be explored.At the centre of the upper canopy an opening allows sunlight and rainfall to penetrate the space beneath where an asymmetric pool collects run off and reflects the sky and patterns of light and shade above. Ripples from falling droplets activate and animate the space. Planting species include Schizolobium parahyba with a meadow like underplanting of Ophiopogon, Arundina and Pogonantherum. The main body of planting sparkles with the luminous flowers of Hymenocallis, Spathoglottis and Belamcanda. The delicate hair like roots of Cissus nodosa together with Asparagus and scented Jasmine tumble over the edge of the planted roof.
Winner of Gold and Best in Show Singapore Garden Festival 2014 Winner Gold best show garden APLD awards 2015
The 2014 Cloudy Bay Chelsea Garden takes inspiration from the tasting notes of key Cloudy Bay wines. Layered characteristics of tastes and sensory experience typify these wines and the various descriptors relate well to our experiences of the garden and its plants. Oak is used to contain and age the wines and the ‘charred edge’ of oak taste in the pinot noir is particularly resonant as a taste experience. This has inspired the boundary treatment and in particular the tall fin like construction of the rear boundary. Tall panels of vertically sliced oak are used to create the fins but the gap between forms a tantalising glimpsed view across the rear of the garden to a hidden shaft of light. The edges of the timbers are charred to amplify the play of light. A paved space provides a terrace at the end of a larger urban or suburban garden and a place to relax in privacy to enjoy the warming rays of the sun, a shallow rill runs through the garden and alongside the terrace. Planting is designed in layers to reflect the complex layering of taste sensations. Species are selected to visually portray taste sensations or for perfume and fruiting potential where possible. Bark character, flower colour, fresh seasonal growth or the promise of later fruit are used to suggest tastes; blackcurrant, burgundy purples or cerise, redcurrant and the sharper gooseberry. Low ornamental grasses, purple and rich red, lime and sparkling white flowering perennials, scented woodland groundcover and coppiced hazel form successive layers across the garden. Winner of RHS Chelsea Silver Gilt medal
In the development of this design idea for RHS Chelsea 2013 we have worked with the over arching concept ‘Always precious sometimes scarce’. This is expressed in the design in several ways – through the choice of materials and their specific detailing or finishes, through the plants and planting, using characterful specimens and rich associations and in the focus on water and its increasingly precious nature as a precious resource that is increasingly rare. The garden proposed is essentially a space to be enjoyed and lived in, and part of a larger garden containing the essence of the Cloudy Bay lifestyle – reflecting quality, simplicity, elegance and a proximity to nature and its rhythms and cycles. Intensity of experience and a sense of discovery are also inherent within the design aiming to reflect a recurrent theme in the enjoyment of the wines and of the vineyards themselves. The garden was awarded an RHS Silver Gilt. Images with kind permision of Paul Childs. More images by Getty can be found here.