Wellington College returns to RHS Chelsea

I have to confess that I always look forward to Chelsea gardens designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam. They return to the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with another garden for Wellington College, sponsored by investment manager, Darwin Property Investment Management Limited (Darwin).

Breaking Ground‘ has at its core the College’s belief that every child has a right to a life-changing education enabling them to reach their full potential. The garden’s central feature is a series of monumental, transparent, steel walls. The 4m high structures express the concept of the disappearing walls of accessing education. Inscribed onto the boundary wall, in an explosive, wave-like manner, will be personal messages about their visions for the future, from 200 students from the family of Wellington schools in the UK and China.

The garden design will also reference the synaptic activity governing our thought process – triggering cognitive connections and responses, facilitating the formation of ideas and concepts.

The garden is inspired by the structure and nature of our neuronal activity – water, one of the basic elements that makes these processes possible, runs through the hard and soft elements. Ornamental meadow features planting that explodes with sparking umbels and dramatic flower and plant forms that echo synaptic events and trains of thought.

Majestic hawthorn trees will feature in the meadow while the heathland planting at the rear of the garden references the original, bleak heathland landscape in Berkshire, into which Wellington College was established in the 1850s.

The garden will highlight the plight of this habitat – one of the most threatened in the world with more than 80% of lowland heaths having been destroyed since the 19th century. These expanses of semi-wilderness are home to birch, pine and oak with Molinia dominating the herb layer underneath. Rare species of violet and occasional orchids populate the sward.

Andrew Wilson, co-designer, comments: “The garden embodies the sense of achievement and success that can arise from often unpromising beginnings and that great inventions or concepts start with a simple idea.”

This is the fourth garden that landscape architects, Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam have designed at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Their most recent appearance at the Show being the medal-winning Living Legacy Garden in 2015, which was the brainchild of Anthony Esse, a former Wellington College student. The design commemorated the battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington’s living memorial, Wellington College. The Living Legacy Garden has since been rebuilt in the grounds of the College to be enjoyed today by future generations of students and visitors.

For further information, please visit www.breakinggroundgarden.com and follow @BreakingGRND.

Garden plan © Andrew Wilson & Gavin McWilliam