Award-winning landscape and garden designer Andy Sturgeon returns to the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show with an Arts and Crafts inspired garden for M&G Investments, the official sponsor of The RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The M&G Garden will celebrate the fundamental design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement with traditional craftsmanship, natural materials and country garden planting.

With references to the gardens at Hidcote Manor and Sissinghurst, Andy describes the design for The M&G Garden as a ‘New English’ style.  The layout will have a strong asymmetric quality; a series of formal, linear paths and terraces will combine with a mirrored water channel to create a succession of garden rooms delineated by stone walls and a 5-metre ‘floating’ oak bench, that are framed within a bold yew hedge.

The space is defined by the three bold monolithic walls.  Clad in rough-hewn natural stone tiles, they will run the length of the garden tapering to form apertures to frame the details of the planting beyond.  Andy has designed a circular repeating pattern that will be hand-drilled into the wall to reference the large-scale woodblock wallpapers of Arts and Crafts figureheads William Morris and John Ruskin.  At night, the walls will be illuminated to form punctured light boxes that bring the garden to life.
The dramatic focal point of the garden will be the ‘energy wave’ sculpture.  Crafted in hammer-finished copper rings, the sculpture will weave through the garden in a free and unconstrained way.  Spilling across borders and pathways and emerging in the rectangular pool, it will enliven the garden without challenging its formality or architectural framework. Although it has a distinctively modern quality, the sculpture is a subtle nod to the Arts and Crafts jewellery and ornaments designed over a century ago.
Simple in form, without superfluous ornamentation, the garden will feature a palette of natural materials including aged copper, English oak and Purbeck stone, shown in their raw beauty with rustic textures revealed and construction techniques exposed and celebrated.  

The ‘New English’ style of planting that Andy has created for The M&G Garden has a harmonious cottage-style quality to it.  Although it utilises some of the familiar components of a traditional English garden with voluptuous borders set against formally clipped hedging it is interpreted in a fresher way. The style will have formality without symmetry and will gently soften the formal architectural edges of the garden.

Domed umbellifers and clipped Ilex (Holly) will channel the eye through the garden, echoing the repetition of the patterns seen on the monolithic wall, whilst generous borders house clumps of billowing perennials that co-exist in a palette of soft pink, white, lilac and yellow.  At opposite ends of the space, the planting tapers to a woodland-edge where Cercidiphyllum trees (Candyfloss trees) will provide height and shade and anchor the garden to the site.

A soft pastel planting palette contrasts with the aged copper sculpture and the rich patina of the treated concrete walls.
Key plants
Aquilegia 'Chocolate Soldier' (Granny’s Bonnet)
Iris Chrysographes Black Form (Black Iris)
Patrinia Villosa
Peucedanum Veticillare (Hog’s Fennel/Milk Parsley)
Andy Sturgeon said: “I am delighted to be designing The M&G Garden at the 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. I decided to create an Arts and Crafts design for The M&G Garden as the company’s values are about tradition and flair, which fits well with the Arts and Crafts theme. I realised recently that my own garden designs, although frequently modern, are totally reliant on the principles and ethos of this popular movement.”

“We’re very excited to unveil a new M&G Garden design for the third year running at THE 2012 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and this time with the help of Andy Sturgeon.” Jacqui Haskins, Marketing Director at M&G said. “Andy has an outstanding pedigree in garden design and has previously show-cased his craftsmanship at the Show. We have been watching him closely for some time now and we’re confident that his design of The M&G Garden will be a favourite amongst the gardening community at this year's Show.”