Every year, there is a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show that gets people talking. It could be an unexpected planting scheme, a wild take on a theme – or, in the case of Sarah Eberle’s garden last year, an extraordinary material used in dramatic ways.
At the show last year, Eberle – Chelsea’s most decorated designer – created the MEDITE SMARTPLY Building the Future Garden, with an impressive waterfall cascading over a building down into a pool below. Not only did it earn Eberle her 20th Gold medal, but it also scooped the Best Construction Award, having been built by prolific contractor Landform Consultants.
The material which arguably stole the show is from the garden’s sponsor, MEDITE SMARTPLY. The large main avenue garden used its wood-based panels to create an edge-of-forest setting, with wild and damp-loving plant species surrounding the building and pool, and tree specimens drawn from a PEFC- and FSC-certified forest (which itself is owned by parent company Coillte) in County Carlow, Ireland where MEDITE SMARTPLY sources its timber. It was inspired by a natural vertical rock strata and designed to showcase the sustainability of the products used but also their versatility outdoors.
“We wanted to have a garden at Chelsea to help us reach a wider audience, to reach the landscaping industry, which is really important for us,” says Rebecca Goldsmith, product manager for MEDITE SMARTPLY, who says the garden ended up being the largest at the show last year. “It was a good way for us to reach those audiences and showcase the product. People wouldn’t necessarily think to use a wood-based panel outdoors and perhaps didn’t know the possibilities of how it could be used.”
We wanted to have a garden at Chelsea to help us reach a wider audience, to reach the landscaping industry, which is really important for us
Goldsmith calls MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME – the main product applied throughout the garden – a “landscaper’s dream”. The high performance engineered panels were used to clad the feature building and line the pool. Made of OSB, SMARTPLY STRONGDECK was used for the roof of the building due to its structural properties and SMARTLY SITEPROTECT, a coated site hoarding panel, created a border around the garden.
In a three-part video series documenting the creation of the Chelsea garden, Eberle says imagination would be the only thing holding you back when using MEDITE SMARTPLY.“It’s innovative, there are so many things that it could be used for.” Sculptors Alex and Emma Devereux, who created the features for the garden, had both worked with MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME “an awful lot”, saying its versatility “makes it a really good product to use, especially for a design like this.” SMARTPLY SITEPROTECT enabled them to use different finishes and to easily paint the surfaces, whilst SMARTPLY STRONGDECK was the “perfect product” to form the roof section.
Eberle was also already an “advocate” of MEDITE products prior to working with them for Chelsea, says Goldsmith. The brand was eager to work with her, though, because of her “dedication to sustainability”. “Sustainability is always at the forefront of her mind in what she’s doing, and that worked well with the message we wanted to send. We wanted to showcase our products being used in applications that people think it may not usually be used, but also with the sustainable benefits of using them,” explains Goldsmith. The wood panel sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and this carbon remains locked in the MEDITE SMARTPLY panels through their lifespan, explains Goldsmith.
We wanted to showcase our products being used in applications that people think it may not usually be used, but also with the sustainable benefits of using them,”
Speaking ahead of the garden being built, Eberle said: “I’m most excited about using MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME…it has a guarantee of 50 years [above ground], even 25 years below ground; that’s incredibly important that you’re not constantly repairing features in your garden or furniture or fences. The wood-based panels actually hold the carbon, which is a really important factor when you’re looking at mainstream building materials. Actually using a new product, one that’s core is about sustainability and the environment, is really close to my heart.”
Alongside promoting MEDITE SMARTPLY’s uses and benefits, the show garden was also created to support the brand’s legacy campaign, which encouraged those using the products to be part of an online community. “The MEDITE Makes It Real campaign for 2022 was to showcase the innovation via MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME as well as our speciality and our MEDITE range of speciality and technical products,” says Goldsmith.“It is designed to bring people together to show off their projects. We also run competitions for people to win quarterly prizes.”
Goldsmith encourages those who are unsure about using a wood-based panel to get in touch with MEDITE SMARTPLY to talk through the application and receive support in the installation. Mark Gregory, managing director of Landform Consultants, called the material a “game changer” in a garden setting on completion of the build last year, and it’s easy to see why; the versatility and green credentials of MEDITE SMARTPLY speak for themselves and Chelsea is likely just the start of the creative ways in which it will be used outside.
Watch the three-part film series of the MEDITE SMARTPLY Building the Future Garden being brought to life here.