Andy Sturgeon's New English Garden at Chelsea

M&G Garden RHS Chelsea 2012M&G Garden RHS Chelsea 2012

Award-winning garden designer Andy Sturgeon returns to the Chelsea Flower Show with an Arts and Crafts inspired garden.

This year's M&G Garden celebrates the key design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement with traditional craftsmanship, natural materials and country garden planting.

Referencing gardens at Hidcote Manor and Sissinghurst, Andy describes the garden as a ‘New English’ style. The design is predominantly asymmetric with a series of formal paths blending with a mirrored water channel to create a sequence of garden rooms segmented by stone walls and a 5-metre ‘floating’ oak bench, all framed by a striking yew hedge.

The design is defined by the three solid walls, covered in natural stone tiles which run the length of the garden. A circular repeating pattern set into the wall references the large-scale woodblock wallpapers of William Morris and John Ruskin. The walls are lit at night, bringing the garden to life.

The garden's focal point is the ‘energy wave’ sculpture. Made from copper rings, it snakes through the garden in a free way. Overflowing on to borders and eventually arising in the rectangular pool. Although distinctively modern, the sculpture is a delicate nod to the Arts and Crafts jewellery and ornaments designed over a century ago.

Materials Utilised

The garden features a range of natural materials such as aged copper, English oak and Purbeck stone, featuring their rustic textures and exposed construction techniques.

Planting Scheme

The ‘New English’ style of planting created by Andy displays a certain cottage-style feel. Although utilising many elements of traditional English gardens with delightful borders against formal clipped hedges, it has been done in a new way. The style is formal without being symmetrical, mellowing the more formal architectural borders of the garden.

Clipped Holly (Ilex) and Domed umbellifers visually guide you through the garden, mirroring the patterns of the wall, while the borders display voluminous clumps of perennials planted in a palette of soft pink, white, yellow and lilac. The garden planting tapers into a woodland-edge where Cercidiphyllum trees (Candyfloss trees) offer height and shade.

A soft planting scheme contrasts with the metal sculpture and the concrete walls.

Key Plants

  • Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldier' (Granny’s Bonnet)
  • Iris chrysographes Black Form (Black Iris)
  • Patrinia villosa
  • Peucedanum veticillare (Hog’s Fennel/Milk Parsley)

Andy Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to be designing The M&G Garden at the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I decided to create an Arts and Crafts design for The M&G Garden as the company’s values are about tradition and flair, which fits well with the Arts and Crafts theme. I realised recently that my own garden designs, although frequently modern, are totally reliant on the principles and ethos of this popular movement."


Article posted on 07 May 2012.

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