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Taking on BBC Gardeners’ World Live for the first time

Katerina Kantalis and New Look Landscapes are preparing to create their first show garden together

Katerina Kantalis is set to make her show garden debut this month. The Australian designer is creating a garden for the APL Avenue at this year’s BBC Gardeners’ World Live in Birmingham alongside contractor New Look Landscapes, which will also be making its debut. 

“New Look have done quite a lot in the commercial space and want to transfer their skills to the domestic area, whereas I’m more domestic. So, we’re bringing in skillsets from both sides,” says Kantalis.  

‘The Chic Garden Getaway’ will aim to show visitors how much can be achieved within a small space. At just eight metres by nine metres, the show garden will include an area for entertaining, an outdoor kitchen, a vegetable patch, a small lawn and a water feature, connected by a winding path. 

Kantalis wants visitors to be able to take “snippets” from the garden, in line with the APL’s theme this year – ‘Take Me Home’. “It’s trying to show people that you can fit a lot into a small garden and not be afraid to do so.” 

You do need the budget, though. The APL grants £15k, but the overall garden needed to come in around £35k, says Kantalis. Fortunately, there were a wealth of suppliers willing to help Kantalis and New Look Landscapes bring their design to life. Take Marshalls, which is providing the hard landscaping, and Sunspaces, which is shipping one of its new pergolas over from Germany.  

“We’ve been trying as much as possible to have items loaned to us, which means we can return them at the end of the show and not create too much waste. We don’t want to use anything that’s going to end up in landfill, so having items like the pergola loaned to us is great – and it works for Sunspaces too as they can promote their new pergola.” 

There’s also fencing from Envirobuild, which is made from 95% recycled wood, as well as products from Rolawn, CORE Landscape Products, Hedges Direct, Rivar Sand and Gravel, The Otter Nursery, Farmer Gracy, Green Earth Habitats and Oxford Botanic Gardens. 

“Working with the various suppliers has been absolutely brilliant,” says Kantalis. “They’ve really helped us out to be able to build the garden.” 

The biggest challenge now in creating The Chic Garden Getaway will be time, says Kantalis. “We’re all still working with businesses to run, and the distance to Birmingham” – Kantalis is London based – “means a lot of overnight stays. We then only have just over two weeks to build the garden, which isn’t long.”

Not that this is putting Kantalis and New Look Landscapes off creating more show gardens in the future. “It’s using your mind and your design in a very different way. There’s almost a bit of freedom to it. You’re not working to a client’s brief so you can be a bit freer with what you’re going to create.” 

There’s also an element of education that Kantalis wants to bring to her show gardens and to inspire the next generation. “A show garden can be quite manicured sometimes, but actually gardens don’t need to be; it’s just about how you want to use your space, teaching your children about gardening, but also teaching others that gardening can be for anyone no matter what skills you have. It’s all about being proud of your garden and acknowledging how special it is to have an outdoor space.”

There’s a lot of messages to their garden this year and a lot to build ahead of the show opening its doors, but Kantalis and New Look Landscapes both seem ready, even eager, to take on the challenge. 

Find The Chic Garden Getaway at BBC Gardeners’ World Live from 15-18 June at the NEC Birmingham. 

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