New cool garden for RHS Garden Rosemoor

A new Cool Garden, designed by Chelsea gold medallist Jo Thompson, will open at Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Garden Rosemoor, Devon, in July 2019. The new garden, centred on the use of water, will feature plants with blue, white and pastel coloured flowers complemented by grey foliage.

The main theme of the garden is how gardeners can deal with heavy rainfall, a typical occurrence in Devon, but also an increasing challenge elsewhere in the UK because of climate change. It will provide a calming contrast to the fiery colours of the nearby Hot Garden at Rosemoor.

The Cool Garden will be the first garden at Rosemoor to be designed around an ornamental water feature and will incorporate a curved terrace to allow visitors to look down across the plantings. The terrace wall will have water blades which feed rills running through the garden to a tear-drop shaped pond.

The new garden replaces the spiral garden which was designed by Tom Stuart-Smith in 1991 shortly after Rosemoor was gifted to the RHS. The design and planting of this garden has stood the test of time but is now due an exciting update. The new design will build upon the relaxed planting of the former garden with its subtle pastel tones and silvery foliage. Many of the original plants will be incorporated into the new Cool Garden, but the portfolio of plants, especially those with blue and white flowers, will be increased and the sinuous water feature will add a reflective element.

Explaining the principles underlying the Cool Garden’s design Jo (pictured left) says: “As Rosemoor is situated in a location with some of the highest recorded annual rainfall in the UK, we wanted to harness the abundance of water by channelling it to a particular part of the site to create a bog garden. This is a good example of how gardeners need to embrace the conditions they have to work with and turn a potential problem into a focal point.”

Jo continues: “Having the opportunity to work on a flagship garden such as RHS Rosemoor is a real privilege, by being able to make a landscape that is openly accessible to everyone to see and enjoy.”

Curator of RHS Garden Rosemoor, Jonathan Webster, points out that although they have natural streams at Rosemoor they want to show visitors how a designed landscape can help to deal with heavy rainfall: “As well as the rills, the lower section of the garden will be a permeable resin bound gravel to help reduce water run-off, showing how visitors can be inspired to find solutions at home,” he said.

When complete, the new garden’s cool pastel planting scheme will contrast with the bold colours of the Hot Garden which features reds, oranges, purples and yellows. Choice plants for the Cool Garden include silver birch Betula pendula Fastigiata Joes (‘Jolep 1’), selections of Hydrangea paniculata and Philadelphus, a selection of grasses to add movement and texture and Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’, commonly called catmint.

Photo credits: Image of garden design ©RHS/Jo Thompson; picture of Jo Thompson ©Reckless Gardener, credit Emma J Campbell Photography