Finnish Soul showcases at Chelsea

The first ever Finnish sauna on a show garden will feature at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (21st September to 26th September 2021) on designer Taina Suonio’s ‘The Finnish Soul Garden‘ sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.

Taina’s design will feature a genuine Finnish wood-heated sauna with vegetated roof containing Finnish coastal native plants that thrive on vegetated roofs in the Finish climate.

The garden depicts a coastal scene and will contain trees of particular interest including the native Karelian Terijoensalava, Salix x fragilis ‘Bullata’ (traditionally used as an ornamental tree in Finland) and a rare Sulkaharmaaleppä and Alnus incana laciniate, both shown for the first time at RHS Chelsea. Viburnum opulus ‘Pohjan neito’ will also feature – Taina explains that this is a real beauty in bloom and attractive in its autumn colour with leaves turning crimson. Overall, the design will consist of plants that depict the striking uniqueness of the Finnish coast.

Incorporating natural Baltic seaside vegetation, the garden aims to provide a haven for relaxation, recuperation and recreation.

The garden will be accessorized by Finnish companies and artists with six Finnish Arts & Crafts artists’ works including Jewellery (which Taina will be wearing) by the goldsmiths of Nagual Koru, Johanna Väänänen and Jari Tynkkynen; three pictures of Finnish scenery inside the sauna, based on photographs by Taina, engraved on copper by a Finnish-British artist, Alex Goughy and traditional Finnish rugs by Anneli Salo made of recycled fabrics following the colours of the plants in the garden design.

The “Wave” sculpture in the garden is by painter and designer Johanna Oras (pictured left) and artwork by Straw-artist Pirjo Vaisanen from Studio Oljikko who uses natural materials in her art.

Taina (whose name appropriately means small plant in Finnish) points out that The Finnish Soul Garden team’s lucky charm is a picture of the Tove Jansson “Moomin Rose” drawn by 12 year-old Anna Voutilainen (pictured right).

Ms Jaana HJusu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry in Finland, points out that the garden is a demonstration of the clean and quiet environment of Finland and offers a unique window to the Finnish Soul.

Taina points out that the relationship with nature gives Finns a lot of happiness and joy: “I hope my garden will show visitors the roots of Finnish wellness attitude where sauna and the beauty of nature play a big part,” she says.

The garden was originally designed for the RHS Chelsea 2020 show to celebrate the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) – initiated by Finland, however, Taina explains that the 2021 garden will continue to celebrate IYPH.

Taina is a renowned Finnish landscape designer and environment biologist. She is showcasing her work at RHS Chelsea for the second time – in 2019 her design ‘The Roots in Finland Kyrö Garden” was recycled almost in its entirety and now has a home in the side garden of the Embassy of Finland in London.

After the show the garden will be partly recycled for a private garden in London.

We wish Taina and her team every success in the build-up to Chelsea and feel sure that there will a lot to discover on her Finnish coastal garden.

Picture credit: Banner garden design ©Taina Suonio, The Wave ©Johanna Oras