Chelsea 2011

The majestic Cheesewrings on Bodmin Moor, the rock pools and beach streams of the Cornish coast and the gardens at Trebah and Trewithen inspired Tom Hoblyn  to create the Homebase Cornish Memories Garden for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Conjuring up memories of childhood exploration of the region, Tom created a garden that was a pleasing contrast to the familiar linear-style Chelsea gardens - easy on the eye, organic and natural.

The garden, Tom fourth for Chelsea, incorporated an ambitious granite-edged natural swimming pool and a striking glass-topped circular pavilion with accompanying shadow pool, set amongst wild, naturalistic planting.

Tom chose authentic Cornish granite to edge both the natural swimming pool and pavilion shadow pool and to form this basis of a ‘rivulet path’ that ran through the centre of garden joining the two pools.  The granite, which was sourced from the last remaining commercial quarry in Cornwall, arrived on site in one tonne jigsaw pieces and was pieced together with millimetre perfection to create the dramatic rivulet path.  The path was intricately carved to create three water channels that weaved through the garden crossing at points to create a powerful water flow that emulated the beach streams of the Cornish Coast.

Resting at the end of the path and providing the perfect vantage point from which to view the garden was a striking circular pavilion.  The pavilion was designed to mimic the almost unfeasible structures of the imposing Cheeswrings on Bodmin Moor. Each Cheesewring is a series of wind-eroded boulders precariously balanced with smaller circular stones sitting beneath larger ones and it was this feeling of impossibility that Tom wanted to recreate with the pavilion, designing the heavy glass roof to hover almost seamlessly over the circular granite base and shadow pool beneath.

To reinforce the idea that garden is based on childhood recollections of Cornwall, Tom commissioned textile artist Anna Glassbrook to create a moiré-effect screen to shield one side of the pavilion.  The screen, was woven around the pavilion so distorting the view of the garden implying that it is a child’s selective memory of Cornwall rather than reality itself. 

At almost nine metres the natural swimming pool was the largest of its kind to be seen at Chelsea.

In stark contrast to the current trend for modern meadows and drifts of new perennial planting, the garden featured species that were once commonplace and fashionable at Chelsea, such as bamboo, rhododendron and cornus.

The planting style reflected the more informal expanses of Cornish gardens, with traditional Cornish plants, that Tom remembered seeing as a child, planted in a naturalistic way. Rhododendron and Pinus sylvestris ‘Watereri’  were selected for their natural rounded forms, mimicking the boulders strewn over Bodmin Moor, while commonly associating perennials  and grasses enhanced the shrubs and added hints of colour. Crowning the garden were 3 tall, authentic Scots Pines, commonly found in Cornwall which  punctuated the garden at regular intervals.

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