Best Show Garden & Showcase Garden Platinum Award Winner
Bringing her passion for upcycle gardening and sustainability to the Show, Frances Tophill presented her first ever Show Garden, a sustainable, post-industrial garden for a modern world.
With sustainability at the heart of the design, Frances’ Garden was structurally inspired by the Bauhaus era of the 1920s, when the BBC was formed, juxtaposed with naturalistic planting, lush greenery and rewilded areas to support wildlife. The garden illustrated the beauty that can ensue as nature is allowed to take its course. Visitors saw how plants can intertwine with a stylised landscape, increasing opportunities for biodiversity and sustainability in our built up spaces.
Softening the geometric shapes within the garden that represent our industrial past, the encroaching flora was a kaleidoscope of plants with a purpose, be it medicinal or nutritional, or as a source of food or habitat for wildlife. A specimen apple tree, Delbard Esteva, was set amongst a woodland understory of purple with accents of orange and red, peppered with naturally growing edibles and garden vegetables.
Locally sourced, reclaimed and recycled materials feature throughout the garden design. A grid of sunken Belfast sink ponds sits at the centre, with a vintage greenhouse made from reclaimed wooden windows, a shed made of rusty-patina corrugated iron, and a 2.5m tall bug arch utilising antique radiators, clay pipes, bricks, tiles to create a range of habitats for wildlife.
All plants were supplied by Hillier Nurseries.
Contributing to the sustainable nature of the garden, Frances chose to work only with plants grown in peat free compost, that have been allowed to grow naturally in the run up to the Show.
Take-home ideas were in abundance, from using existing materials to create garden features to maximising every inch of a plot and creating a variety of habitats within a small space, as well as a feeling of balance and equilibrium as the human world sits harmoniously with the landscape as well as the flora and fauna within.
Frances will be donating the garden to Foleshill Community Centre, which has a community garden to grow produce used to cook or give to members of the social supermarket they have set up. As well as this, the charity has set up a thriving well-being programme, including yoga, craft, food days and gardening sessions.
From birdhouses, bug hotels and hedgehog shelters, to planting flowers loved by the bees there’s something we can all do to help wildlife in the garden. Take a look below at some of the previous sustainable and bug friendly gardens from BBC Gardeners’ World Live.