Garden of potential to defy gravity

Tbanner-he-Garden-of-Potential-1Balancing a five-tonne boulder precariously on the roof of an oak pavilion, will appear to defy gravity on newcomer Propagating Dan’s first Chelsea Garden.

The ‘Garden of Potential’ will incorporate rugged Icelandic landscapes, a Buddhist sense of oneness and the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, in an unexpected horticultural harmony to provide the inspiration for this garden which is in the Fresh Category.

Propagating Dan is the professional name of Daniel Bristow, a South London garden designer, who is working closely with Anthony Tavernor of Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens and specialists Sue and Bleddyn Wynne-Jones of Crug Farm Plants.

The five-tonne glacial boulder balances directly above a ceramic sculpture by contemporary artist Jesse Wine. An elaborate gutter architecturally zigzags through the landscape, capturing a rainstorm’s potency in a gurgling rill.

Rarely used – and often derided – plants predominate: the maligned majestic field horsetail, Equisetum arvense, will architecturally weave its way through a lush and unusual woodland planting scheme. The sometimes scorned golden leylandii, in all its sculptural neon beauty, also makes a focal point.

Dan points out that the garden, while serene, lush and a space for contemplation is, at the same stroke, teeming with ideas. He explains that the garden has a multitude of influences; from the inherent energy held within boulders that perch on Snowdonia’s mountainsides, to the idea of oneness in Buddhist teaching, to Icelandic dew-scattered meadows:

‘What this garden won’t have is a theme,” he says. “I believe a design should be praised or critiqued on its own merits and I want this garden, as any I design, to provoke a response in the visitor without the necessity of a guidebook.”

The boulders are to be lent to the project by GreenWood Forest Park, an award-winning eco-adventure park in North Wales.

Dan grew up in a horticultural household in Sudan and on Angelsey, learning all about plants in the hedgerow by a young age. He started his own design business in 2008 and studied horticulture at Capel Manor College. He has been on numerous plant-hunting trips worldwide, including Japan, SW China, the Bolivian Andes and Sri Lanka.

Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones are among the most important plant hunters working today. They have made over 16,000 seed collections over some 50 expeditions. They have scaled mountains and volcanoes, explored hidden canyons and dodged armed bandits, to seek out elusive specimens. They work closely with government agencies, Royal and Botanic Gardens and National collections across the world.

Jessie Wine is based in New York and studied for his MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2010. He exhibits widely, both nationally and internationally.

Anthony Tavernor, bought a run-down four-hectare estate at Plas Cadnant on the Isle of Anglesey and has spent the last 20 years painstakingly restoring and transforming the site into superb formal gardens with woodland walks, streams and waterfalls.
Dan’s website is: