Finnish first for RHS Chelsea
For the first time in its history, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will feature a Finnish Garden. The creative force behind the Finnish garden in the Space to Grow category is Finnish landscape designer, horticulturist and environmental biologist, Taina Suonio for sponsor Kyrö Distillery Company.
Taina is no stranger to British and Irish gardening having studied horticulture in Northern Ireland, and participated in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for 14 years, working with leading designers, such as Carol Klein, Jo Thompson and Andy Sturgeon, on their Show Gardens. At the 2018 Show, Taina was planting Team Leader on Mark Gregory’s garden helping him to win Gold and reach the coveted Best Construction and Show Gardens People’s Choice Awards. Professor Nigel Dunnett describes Taina as his “go-to person for show garden planting – a true ecological artist with plants” for good reason.
Green roof expertise
Taina is best known in her native Finland for her expertise on green roofs, in which capacity she is the initiator and landscape designer of an award-winning new ‘The Greenest of the Green’ apartment building project in central Helsinki. She is also an active member of the University of Helsinki’s research green roofs.
The garden’s clear Nordic lines, including a weather-beaten naturally grey barn wall and imposing granite, will stand out from the vegetation, providing an overall atmosphere of timelessness and permanence. The Nordic lines and use of natural stone were hallmarks of the world-famous modern Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) who used them in the design of the famous Finlandia Hall in the heart of Helsinki.
Taina’s passion for ecology will be evident with the inspirational biodiversity of Finnish meadows and woodland and the butterfly garden section, conveying the message of the importance of pollinators to our ecosystem.
Coming from the land of a thousand Lakes, the Finish garden will feature a cascading water feature to remind visitors to the garden about the relationship the Finns have with their roots in the country and the much-cherished respite by their countless lakeside and seaside cottages.
Naturally, the garden will feature Junipers but the remarkable red birch will be making its firsts ever appearance at RHS Chelsea, and are rare even in Finland. Lily of the Valley, the national flower of Finland, will grow under the trees. Skilfully crafter silver insects by the artist Ru Runeberg, will decorate the garden in places. The Finnish trees and plants (Betula pubescens f.rubra, Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Plena’, Rosa majalis, Rosa ‘Pohjantahti, will be supplied by the nursery Tamisto Huutokoski Ltd, the northernmost nursery in Europe. Finnish Kekkilä-BVB, as one of five leading manufacturers of professional high-end growing media for the field in Europe, is happy to be part of the team also. Plywood for the garden will be supplied by Finnish UPM, a leading European plywood supplier, suitable for the conditions that the climate of the North requires.
The Loimaan Kivi Company, pioneers of Finnish stone refining, are also delighted to join the team Finland, pointing out that alongside the Finnish gin, the garden provides a perfect setting for them as they move to gain a foothold in the British market for their soon to be 100 year old professional tradition.
Sponsors Kyrö Distillery sees the garden as presenting some of their ingredients and Finnishness in a manner close to home: “Taina has done excellent work and actually out of the raw materials presented in the garden, we could distil a gin,” says the MD Miika Lipiäinen.
Taina explains that although visitors to Chelsea will see the design in bloom, she has to see it through the four distinctly seasons of the Nordic climate in Finland, however, in the urban setting for which the garden is designed, it will have the desired impact throughout the year.
Garden construction will be undertaken by Conquest Creative Spaces and the plants acquired from the UK will come from Creepers Nursery.
The Finnish Embassy is obviously excited about the garden too and are pleased that Finnish Garden Design is represented in the most prestigious garden show of the world.
We wish Taina and her team the best of luck in their build-up and feel sure this Finnish garden will be one of the highlights of this year’s Show.
Picture credits: ©Taina Suonio