Following a successful Main Avenue debut at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2018 with the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate Show Garden, for which he was awarded a silver gilt medal, West London based garden designer Jonathan Snow is returning in May once again with a destination focused garden alongside Trailfinders. This year, Jonathan and Trailfinders want to transport visitors several thousand miles west around the globe, to the temperate rainforests of South America, specifically Chile, a destination that’s increasing in popularity for Trailfinders.
“For me, Chelsea has always been first and foremost about the plants, and I wanted to do something completely different if I got the chance to design another Main Avenue garden. We actually know quite a few Chilean plants, here in the UK, so I started to read up on where they like to grow naturally. I discovered a land of snow-capped mountains covered in ancient forests and dense vegetation, dotted with dramatic waterfalls, and serene, gin clear lakes, and that was the start of the design.” explains Jonathan.
Since then, he has reenlisted the help of Mark Richardson’s Stewart Landscape Construction, and Dave Root’s Kelways Plants and has been on two plant hunting recces to Chile. “I absolutely love finding plants I know, growing in their natural environment and I think this knowledge is the key to becoming both a better gardener and a better designer.”
“I’m really looking forward to showcasing many well-known garden plants in their natural habitat so look out for gunneras, ferns, fuchsias, geums and a few other surprises.”
As for the hard landscaping, there are going to be two significant challenges. First, the water. “The landscape I’m trying to represent is dramatic, and I’ve only got a limited area, and height, in which to convey that drama”. I want noisy cascading waterfalls sluicing down a steep rock face, plunging into a lake, so the garden will be situated on the Rock Back, at the top of Main Avenue, to give us a bit of extra height.”
The garden will also feature a red walkway, winding its way sinuously around the rugged landscape, trees and water. “The temperate rainforests of Chile are dense, and in all the national parks you see a lot of timber walkways which have been constructed in order to allow visitors to get up close to the flora. As you would expect most of the walkways are functional, but I want to elevate this into something a bit more sculptural and beautiful, and juxtapose it with the lush natural planting. We’re still in the early stages of building it but it’s exciting to see my drawings come to life.”