The Boodles Secret Garden – RHS Chelsea 2021

At Chelsea Flower Show 2021, I created The Boodles Secret Garden, inspired by the well-loved children’s story by Frances Hodgson- Burnett: a contemporary interpretation of the journey into an enchanted, life changing sanctuary of a secret garden.

From the naturalistic planting in the outer beds of Hydrangea paniculata, Rhus typhina, Miscanthus sinensis and spires of Verbena hastata, you were drawn from a palette of muted greens and creams through a high, intricately carved, louvred oak wall into an enchanted, secret garden brimming with jewel like plants. Dahlia campanulata and Fuchsia magellanica var. molinae, introduced beautiful, droplet structures and soft pink into the exotic planting, and altogether a more defined area.

The Secret Garden was encased by a combination of Taxus baccata hedging and an oak louvre wall created by renowned contemporary furniture maker Jan Hendzel Studio from sustainably sourced oak, found within five miles of Chelsea. The two contrasting surfaces of the louvre reflected the two areas of the garden and personified that life changing journey into The Secret Garden.

 

“I loved the Boodles garden designed by Thomas Hoblyn, inspired by children’s classic The Secret Garden. Oak fencing surrounding the plot was created by Jan Hendzel using oak from one single tree that was ripped up to make way for HS2. In one plank they found a musket shot. The fence is formed like a louvre, with 5cm gaps between the 15x5cm planks, so when you get close you can see into the “secret” garden within. The fence is amazing, sculptural and a real statement. Whether visitors can see enough I’m not so sure – there is a history of designers being penalised for restricted views. A beautiful female Rhus typhina in flower sits on the corner and quite wild planting sits outside the fence. The play of shadows in the autumnal sunlight brought the whole to life.”

Bunny Guinness, The Telegraph

 

“The Boodles Secret Garden was designed by Tom Hoblyn to celebrate the firm’s celebrated Secret Garden jewellery collection, and features a striking louvred oak installation. Timber is a material that is highly favoured in garden design at the moment. Natural, sustainable and mellow-hued, it is used in all sorts of garden structures from pergolas and fences to seating and sculpture. In his Chelsea garden, Tom has used it to create a wonderfully tactile and eye-catching screen to enclose the secret space within. Outside the walls the beds are filled with soft, naturalistic plants and grasses with architectural interest from a large Rhus typhina ‘Dissecta’, whose leaves turn vivid shades of russet and gold in autumn. Enticed inside, you can sit on a simple oak bench to contemplate a more exotic planting of tree ferns, large-leaved Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’ and Impatiens soldenii. A mirror-like black reflecting pool surrounded by ferns and glossy-leaved foliage plants adds another dimension to the enclosed sanctuary. But it is the sculptural walls that give this garden its distinctive note. Made from sustainably sourced oak by contemporary furniture maker Jan Hendzel Studio, they funnel light and shadow, catching the eye with their intricately-carved waves, and providing the perfect backdrop to Tom’s refined palette of plants.”

Clare Foster, House and Gardens

 

“Taxus baccata hedging completes the structure, which was created as an interplay between natural and man-made elements. Flowers and leaves bring colour to the composition, with pops of blue, white and pink given by jewel-like plants such as Hydrangea paniculata, Miscanthus sinensis, Verbena hastata, Acis autumnalis and Fuchsia magellanica. The sculptural wooden shapes, Hendzel explains, explore natural forms in combination with ‘geometric carved interventions’. The pared-back aesthetic visible from the outside is contrasted with the richer vegetation concealed within the Secret Garden. On one side of the garden space, a textured wooden bench offers a moment of pause to observe the natural compositions by Hoblyn.”

Rosa Bertoli, Wallpaper Magazine

 

The structure was moved to Boodles, Sloane Street after the show and the planting donated to The Message Trust, a charity supporting families in the North of England.

The Boodles Secret Garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal.

Photography Bizzy Arnott and Fergus Coyle