A conceptual garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will highlight the surprising beauty of Britain’s brownfield, urban sites and the important role they have to play in creating the communities of tomorrow.
‘Brownfield – Metamorphosis’ by designer Martyn Wilson will take an abstract look at regeneration and demonstrate nature’s ability to succeed against the odds and transform an open space.
Show visitors will be greeted by a series of monolithic steel structures that reference the manufacturing industries of the Industrial Age. On closer inspection, the steel appears twisted and torn – a nod to the decline of these industries. Through the rubble, the decay is being replaced by the processes of natural regeneration, and trees and vegetation are self-seeding. This natural transition provides opportunities for wildlife in the heart of urban areas.
Sponsored by the UK’s leading regeneration specialist St. Modwen, the garden will feature urban art references by street artist Louis Masai on recycled hoardings. Swathes of grasses, ferns, herbaceous perennials and self-seeding annuals will soften the hard landscaping. The garden will form part of the new ‘gardens for a changing world’ category at the show.
Martyn’s design has been Inspired by Landschaftpark, Duisburg-Nord in Germany, the High Line in New York and successful brownfield regeneration schemes in the UK. He said: “What interested me initially was the changing nature of urban landscapes which are so often are in state of flux. There’s the process of demolition and reconstruction but between the two, before building work starts, you often find nature moves back in and a new, temporary landscape is created.
“My garden will recreate that moment in time, in a sculpted form, with nods to the past and also the future. We should see these city spaces as opportunities and, whilst appreciating their gritty beauty, look forward to welcoming the communities that will replace them.”
St. Modwen is a fitting sponsor for the show garden. Currently spearheading the regeneration of New Covent Garden Market, London; the transformation of Longbridge, Birmingham and RAF Uxbridge in west London, the company is the UK expert in developing brownfield sites and amongst its portfolio also counts the magnificent Trentham Estate and Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent. Mark Allan, chief executive at St. Modwen, said: “The transformation and regeneration of urban sites not only goes a long way to answering the UK’s existing housing crisis but has also brought back thousands of acres of brownfield land into the public sphere that was previously not accessible.”
The steel structures on the garden are being designed by sculptor Simon Probyn and walls loaned by The Pot Company. The steel structure will sit on concrete footings being donated by Easymix Concrete.
The surface of the garden will be mulched with aggregates recycled from brownfield sites and donated by Smiths of Bletchington. The plants are being sourced from renowned nursery and show garden supplier Hortus Loci.
Martyn’s garden will also help raise the profile of cancer charity UCARE [Urology Cancer Research and Education] at the show with volunteers greeting visitors.