Bowles & Wyer return to Chelsea

Award-winning landscape contractors Bowles & Wyer will be returning to the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a garden for the Warner Edwards Distillery created by garden designer Helen Elks-Smith.

The Main Avenue show garden marks Bowles & Wyer’s eighth Chelsea garden and will see the team take on a challenging build working with Helen and a team of specialists to create the garden. Water expert Andrew Ewing will also be on board together with artist Wendy Newhofer, who is designing a glass wall for the garden.

The garden, inspired by the natural springs at Falls Farm in Northamptonshire, the home of the distillery, has been designed using a complicated sequence of structures and techniques to create multiple water features, which run quietly through the different areas of the garden to create gentle arcs and streams before they emerge again in the garden.

Drystone walls will form a pavilion with two large cantilevered roofs appearing to float above them, from where the water will flow down a central ‘chimney’ through a string of copper ‘fins’ before disappearing below ground.

A large stone trough lined with copper, and furniture designed by Helen and made by master craftsman Ben Naylor will all form part of the design, all of which Bowles & Wyer will be coordinating on site to ensure swift and easy transition into the garden.

Giving back to nature

In line with Warner Edwards ethos of ‘giving back to nature’, planting will provide good habitats and food sources for birds, insects, bees and butterflies. Structures will reflect a simple palette of materials reflecting the heritage of the local landscape as well as the distilling materials used by Warner Edwards.

Dan Riddleston, Managing Director at Bowles & Wyer, will be leading the project. The team will undertake much of the construction work off-site to ensure enough time is allowed for planting once the team moves to the Chelsea showground. This includes the drystone walls as well as the pavilion’s steel frame, the foundations as well as some of the water features which will then be carefully reassembled at the showground.

Structures reflect a simple palette of materials reflecting the heritage of the local landscape as well as distilling materials used by the Warner Edwards Distillery.

One of the major concerns with the build will be ensuring that the plants will be available amid uncertainty about plant passports in the wake of Brexit. Trees, hedges and shrubs have already been imported and are being grown-on at Deepdale Trees in Bedfordshire, while Rosy Hardy will be growing the remaining plants.

Dan is familiar with most of the challenges that Chelsea heralds having built gardens there for over 25 years: “Helen’s garden has been designed to create a relaxed entertaining space with views to the wider landscape underpinned by subtle, textural planting. There is inevitably a complexity to fitting everything into the small area available at an RHS Show but in terms of space and feel, Helen’s garden is brilliant and our job is to make sure that her design is executed beautifully,” he said.

Dan adds that he has worked alongside Helen for many years and to be asked to build her show garden for Warner Edwards is a huge honour: “The project is a collaborative effort between a team of highly skilled craftsmen and we’re thrilled to be part of it,” he said.

Natural choice for build contractor

For Helen, her experience working with Bowles & Wyer over the years meant that they were a natural choice for her when it came to building this Chelsea garden: “Dan brings a wealth of experience with him and is completely unphased by any of the challenges thrown at him,” she says. “He also has an excellent behind-the-scenes team. Having complete confidence in them to deliver my vision for the garden and for Warner Edwards Distillery has allowed me to really enjoy the process knowing that it will be built to the highest standard and with meticulous attention to detail, which is no mean feat. It really is a joy working with them all,” added Helen.

Bowles & Wyer is a landscape design and build company with a reputation for creating award-winning gardens and landscapes. As a BALI Grand Award winning contractor, Bowles & Wyer offers a complete hard and soft landscaping construction service to garden designers and landscape architects alike.

Obviously at shows such as RHS Chelsea a lot of attention is paid to the designers of show gardens and we often overlook the work that goes on behind the scenes with the construction of gardens. When a designer and construction team work well together the result can be and frequently is award winning and I feel sure that Helen and Dan will be producing something really special on the Warner Edwards garden.

Picture credits: all images ©Warner Edwards, Helen Elks-Smith