Landmark Chelsea design for Hillier

banner-Artist's-illustration---Hillier-in-Springtime-designed-by-Sarah-Eberle-HI-RESFor the first time in 20 years, Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres will be moving from the Great Pavilion Monument site at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to a new position a few metres closer to the Royal Hospital and off the Chilianwalla Monument.

Chelsea 2016 sees Hillier embarking on a series of Chelsea firsts in what is an exciting new development for the 152 year-old family-owned nursery. For the first time in over two decades – and only the third or fourth time since Hillier’s Gold medal winning run began 71 years ago – Hillier has a new home at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

With the new site comes new design opportunities and Hillier have turned to Sarah Eberle, the acclaimed garden designer and former Design Director of Hillier Landscapes. Sarah is considered as part of the family and her achievements at Chelsea include winning Gold in every garden category. She has, however, never before exhibited in the Great Pavilion so the 2016 partnership with Hillier will be a first for her as well.


I feel honoured to have been asked to design the Hillier exhibit,” says Sarah (pictured above). “I have a long history with Hillier. The Hillier Manual was the bible when I was training as a landscape architect, and I have known the family and the nursery team at Hillier for a long time.”

In taking on the challenge of designing the Hillier exhibit, how does Sarah feel about the weight of the Hillier Golden Legacy at Chelsea? “It certainly focuses the mind!” says Sarah.  “And it makes me work harder and better.”

Chelsea is a huge Hillier team effort and remains the highlight of the Hillier year. This year’s staging team will include George and Jim Hillier from the fifth generation of the Hillier family and the new Hillier management trainees backed by Hillier Chelsea veterans, Ricky Dorlay and John Hillier VMH.

Sarah’s design, ‘Hillier in Springtime’, will be a stunning departure from the traditional Hillier woodland exhibits of the past. Sarah has designed a Show Garden for plant-lovers and she has taken the very best trees and shrubs that Hillier has to offer – with the same exacting focus on plant quality for which Hillier is renowned – to present them in a fresh, contemporary way.

Water will cascade into a central body of water from three copper pipes set into a high grey gabion wall. Boardwalks on two sides extend over the garden. Sarah will use towering semi-mature trees, such as multi-stemmed amelanchier and carpinus, prunus, Cratageus ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ and Pinus nigra.

The planting will showcase different plant communities, plants that both grow successfully together and combine beautifully, to both educate and inspire show visitors.

The 3,000 trees and plants needed for the Hillier Chelsea exhibit are being grown at Hillier’s nurseries under the watchful, experienced eye of Ricky Dorlay.

middle-Acer-'Moonrise-low-resHillier will also be introducing two new plant varieties at Chelsea: Acer ‘Moonrise’: a scorch resistant acer with red young leaves opening to yellow and red autumn colour (pictured above) and Lavendula ‘Silver Line’ – a white lavender in aid of the charity ‘The Silver Line’, the helpline launched by Esther Rantzen to offer information and advice to older people.

Hillier is always one of the most popular exhibits at RHS Chelsea and is the most successful exhibitor in the show’s history with a record 70 consecutive RHS Chelsea Gold Medals.

We feel sure that Sarah will bring a fresh expression and contemporary feel to this year’s exhibit and look forward to seeing her work.