William Morris & Co Chelsea show garden

Morris & Co., the British heritage brand founded by William Morris in 1861, will stage its first Show Garden at RHS Chelsea 2022, designed by award-winning landscape and garden designer Ruth Willmott.

The Morris & Co. Garden‘ will re-imagine back into a garden setting, two of William Morris’s most iconic designs, inspired by his enduring love of nature and the flowers he saw around him.

The garden layout takes a series of simple inter-connecting pathways, reflecting his first wallpaper design ‘Trellis‘, a pattern influenced by the rose trellis in the garden of his home in Kent. The centre of the garden is influenced by his ‘Willow Boughs‘ design and features an intricate hand-crafted metal pavilion referencing the metal inlays on the wooden printing blocks used to make the design. Pictured  ‘Trellis’, was designed in 1862 and ‘Willow Boughs’, in 1887.

The garden will also feature traditional arts and crafts alongside modern-day craftsmanship while the striking central pavilion will feature posts and screens layered with two contrasting colours, much like Morris’s iconic prints and laser-cut with the Willow Boughs pattern using modern crafting techniques. Hand-made clay tiles and riven buff York stone paving will demonstrate more traditional arts and crafts methods.

Ruth’s planting will also draw from Morris designs, reflecting his love of colour and palette of earthy reds and apricot tones accented with whites, blues and restful greens. Morris was an early advocate of using native species among long-cultivated non-natives to attract birds and bees and this ethos will be reflected in Ruth’s choice of plants.

Recognising that simplicity and craft lay at the heart of Morris’s beliefs, the garden will also feature traditional arts and crafts alongside modern-day craftmanship.  The striking central pavilion will feature posts and screens layered with two contrasting colours, much like his iconic prints, and laser-cut with the Willow Boughs pattern using modern crafting techniques.  The same pattern will also be inlayed into a sequence of water channels flowing throughout the garden.(pictured left: Trellis)

Elsewhere, hand-made clay tiles and riven buff Yorkstone paving will demonstrate more traditional arts and crafts methods.

Planting will also be drawn from Morris’s designs, reflecting his love of colour and pattern in a palette of earthy reds and apricot tones accented with whites, blues and restful greens; while plants featured in his designs will also be used including willow and hawthorn.  An early advocate of using native species amongst long-cultivated non-natives to attract birds and bees, Morris’s ethos will also be reflected in the choice of plants.

Ruth Willmott comments: “The garden emerged from hours spent pouring over William Morris’s iconic pattern books, immersing myself in his designs and imagining the joy of being surrounded by his patterns in the form of flowers and trees.  I wanted to create a modern interpretation of Morris’s work, using vivacious colour and pattern to echo his designs, rather than simply replicating them and to reflect his beautiful interior designs in the natural outdoor setting which inspired them.”

CEO of Morris & Co., Lisa Montague comments that they are delighted to be working with Ruth and her team on a show garden at Chelsea: “Flowers and gardens were an abiding source of inspiration for William Morris’s fabric and wallpaper designs which speak to current design trends. Sponsoring a garden at RHS Chelsea will allow us to bring our heritage designs and love for craftsmanship to life through the creation of a spectacularly curated garden for all to admire.” Lisa also points out that by creating an outdoor space, Ruth will return Morris & Co., to its origins, giving the opportunity to invert that same core goal – delivering beautiful interiors to natural exteriors.(pictured right: Willow Boughs)

After the show elements of the garden are to be relocated to several new community gardens on the Packington Estate regeneration project in Islington, in collaboration with the Arc Centre Gardening Collective. The newly redeveloped estate is located around the corner from the site where Morris’s prints were first produced over 160 years ago.

The Morris & Co. Garden will be Ruth’s fifth garden at RHS Chelsea and her first on Main Avenue. She was awarded Best Garden (People’s Choice) at RHS Chelsea in 2015 as well as achieving both Gold and Silver medals at the prestigious show over the last decade. She runs her design practice based in London.

Photo credits: strictly ©garden design Ruth Willmott; Morris images, Morris & Co.

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