Wedgwood to return to RHS Chelsea

Sponsor Wedgwood will be returning to the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with another show garden designed by award-winning designer Jo Thompson.

The garden will celebrate Wedgwood’s 260 year history and the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of their founder, Josiah Wedgwood, and will be inspired by the very same collection of classical references and images that first stimulated Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) when he was planning Etruria, the Staffordshire village that he created for his workers. Wedgwood had close links with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) suggesting a horticultural society in a letter to William Forsyth, King George III’s head gardener.

Framed with spectacular soaring pavilions, the garden brings Wedgwood’s rich history to life by setting its foundations in Etruria. Jo’s inspiration is drawn from her visit to the Wedgwood museum in Staffordshire where she discovered the fascinating and extensive ceramics collection and also learnt of Wedgwood’s pioneering creation of Etruria. After absorbing such a rich seam of ideas, she drew on her own experience of living in Rome, which later provided the spark that ignited her career in garden design.

One of the highlights of Jo’s garden will be the use of water within the space – it will travel on multiple levels throughout the garden, echoing the canals and watercourses of the past that were fundamental to the functionality of Wedgwood’s production and industry. Etruria was known as ‘the factory in the garden‘ with plentiful green space alongside a canal and the Chelsea garden will reference this with the water feature.

The planting palette promises burnished copper in tone with apricot highlights and will be both dynamic and soft, with mass plantings of Ferula communis and Valeriana pyrenaica. Jo is a master at the art of using roses in her designs and so we can expect some amazing varieties. She will also use specimen trees such as Taxodium distichum and the mighty Metasequoia glyptostroboides for texture and structure.

The variety of angles will be brought together by repeated use of materials in the garden, with subtly contrasting surfaces and textures. They will be used alongside delicate decorative metalwork artfully placed sculptures that will highlight key junctions and motifs.

The 2018 Wedgwood Chelsea garden was a huge success – awarded Gold – and Jo (pictured left) is thrilled to have been asked to return for the sponsor to create another garden: “Last year’s experience was fantastic and we’ll be working with the same team, on the same plot, so it’ll be like returning home. Chelsea Flower Show is irresistible and we’ve developed such a fantastic relationship with the Wedgwood team that we are thoroughly enjoying the journey once more.” Jo added that the opportunity to create a garden celebrating 260 years of Wedgwood and championing the innovative and creative spirit of Josiah Wedgwood was utterly compelling: “There’s a certain irresistible magic and nostalgia associated with such an incredible past. I welcome the opportunity to apply a modern interpretation to the garden and to draw visitors’ attention to Wedgwood’s pioneering and positive force in corporate responsibility.”

Christian Bachler, Wedgwood Senior Vice President commented that they were extremely proud to be marking the 260th year with this magnificent garden:”Jo has spent a considerable length of time exploring the many strands of our rich history and will be bringing them together with an original arrangement of space and dynamic planting. The plans look inspiring and we are excited to see the final result,” he said.

Jo has been the recipient of nine medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, including four Gold and her exquisite planting has led her to be considered one of the UK’s leading plantswomen.

This will be one garden to look out for and I will be especially interested to discover Jo’s choice of roses for this latest design. Best wishes to all the team.

Picture credits: All pictures ©Wedgwood/Jo Thompson; picture of Jo credit Rachel Warne; picture of Josiah Wedgwood strictly ©Wedgwood