This year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is set to be the last for those behind the Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden.
Garden designers Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam, and David Dodd – managing director of prolific contractor The Outdoor Room – have all said they will probably not be returning to the world-famous show as they look to welcome the next generation of designers and landscapers.
Whilst The Outdoor Room will continue to build show gardens, Dodd says the Transcendence Garden is “a fantastic one for me to bow out on.” It is the third show garden he was worked on with Wilson and McWilliam. “Every time it’s an absolute wonderful atmosphere with the ultimate professionalism,” he says.
The level of engineering required, though, made it the “scariest garden I’ve ever built by a long way,” and its plot on Main Avenue is the only one he was yet to build on until this year.
For Wilson, who turns 64 in July, it is time to “hand over and pick up the next generation.” Graduates of the London College of Garden Design, co-founded by Wilson, were out in their droves at Chelsea this year, with one graduate – Tom Massey – just a few gardens away on Main Avenue.
McWilliam, meanwhile, wants to dedicate more time to his family and to his practice, McWilliam Studio. “It does take a huge toll on your family and everybody else around you, and I think doing Chelsea on an ongoing basis is very challenging,” he says.
The Transcendence Garden also closes a “nice completion cycle,” adds McWilliam. “It was 20 years ago that I started this career in landscape when my father died, which is why this garden is so important to us. It was 20 years ago that I met Andrew and we’ve worked together for 17 years. We’ve done 10 years at Chelsea, doing five show gardens in that time, and it just feels like everything’s complete. I feel at peace stepping away from it all. I don’t think you could have a better person to design with, a better person to build the garden or a better sponsor – and it’s only when all those things come together that you get something really beautiful.”
Read more about Andrew Wilson stepping away from exhibiting at Chelsea in the June issue of Pro Landscaper, out this week.