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Stonemarket reveals garden for Chelsea

The Stonemarket Boat Race Anniversary Garden aims to make waves at this year's big flower show.

To help celebrate the 175th staging of the world famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, popular garden designer Bunny Guinness has been brought in to design "The Stonemarket Boat Race Anniversary Garden", which will, of course, feature a selection of Stonemarket's top-notch landscape products. The company are confident that the stunning design will prove to be a show-stopper at theChelsea Flower Show in May.
boat race garden
Image courtesy of Stonemarket
The garden is going to be sunk by 600mm below normal ground level so that visitors will be able to look down on Bunny's race-themed design which is based on the rivalry between the 'two blues'. The garden will have two distinct areas - a "Cloister Garden" reflecting the atmospheric setting of the historic colleges, along with a modern "Party Garden" in which the winning team could celebrate their success. Bunny Guinness' inspiration for The Stonemarket Boat Race Anniversary Garden was derived from her visits to cvarious ollege gardens at both Universities and by talking with current and former "Blues" (These are not Man City fans, for those of you more familiar with football than rowing! ). wink

She says:
"The design of the garden reflects the quintessentially British heritage of the race and is quite fitting with the tradition of the Chelsea Flower Show. A dramatic feature of the garden is the innovative use of Stonemarket paving and, in addition to being unusually 'sunken', promises to be truly eye-catching."

The design will feature Stonemarket's Trustone Fellside paving laid in a bespoke 'waved' pattern for which it has to be precision-cut by a water jet process. The celebrated race course along the Thames and the famous Surrey bend will be re-created using the Trustone Torvale paving, a dark limestone that will form a good contrast with the other paving and the planting. Highlights of the actual Boat Race course along the Thames will be depicted in brass engraving set into the modern paving.

The "Cloistered Gardens" will use a number of different materials. The stone buttresses and framework are sculpted from chunky green topiary, clipped to represent the solid, architectural shapes, while the stone of the arches are formed in moulded timber tracery with a living roof of ivy and clematis.

Torvale paving
Torvale paving as featured in Stonemarket's brochure
For us gardeners, I've been told we can expect spectacular planting with drifts of many shades of blues and fine textures contrasting against the strong architectural elements. Planting will include popular sages, such as Salvia patens 'Cambridge Blue', waves of lavender and a selection of the often underused Camassias. Four old, gnarled pear trees with Surrey Bend shaped timber benches around their base are intended to give scale and an air of establishment to the garden.
fellside paving
Fellside paving from my own portfolio
At the other end of the garden, an upturned boat will provide the central support to an awning supported by crossed oars. This structure will cover a large table, laid out in readiness for a celebration meal for the winning eight, complete with the famous trophy. A long wall acts as the boundary for two sides and is intended to link together the different areas of the garden together. At the celebration end, it will be decorated with "gargoyles" depicting famous 'Old Blues' including Lord Snowdon, Hugh Laurie and Matthew Pinsent. There will also be a carved stone score board emphasising the long-standing rivalry between the two universities.
You couldn't really have a boat race garden without water, and so this vital element will form the boundary to the remaining two sides, below a fence od stylised oars. The wave theme will be echoed, picked out in blue irises. To ensure the safety of those viewing, a simple but sturdy fence made from oar shaped timbers forms the boundary around the viewing sides.

After Chelsea finally shuts its gates and chucks out the riff-raff of Sloane Square and Kensington, the whole garden, except for the plants, is being shipped off to Japan, where it will join 27 other original gardens in an unique park designed by Bunny.

Tom Poole, MD of Stonemarket and all-round nice bloke, is really excited about the whole project. In an email following our meeting at the London Stone Show, he enthused,

"The garden uses a mixture of Trustone and Millstone to create the 'wavy' paving to replicate the Thames, and should prove to be a challenge between the cutting and special moulding. The layout of the course also dissects the paving, making the whole thing into a giant jigsaw. I believe it will look stunning, and hopefully will illustrate yet another innovative use of hard landscape paving. We were keen to continue to try and be unusual with our use of paving (in true Stonemarket style!), and that was what attracted us to the design."

Let's hope for fine weather come May, as this sounds as though it could be a real stunner!


More information available from the Stonemarket website or call their Customer Helpline on 024 7651 8700
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