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Students from Cornwall design green harbour for Chelsea

Students from Cornwall design green harbour for Chelsea
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An opportunity to design a garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show is a dream come true for Aline Dejaegher, Debra Craig and Karen Narramore – all of whom are third-year students on University College Falmouth’s BA(Hons) degree in Garden Design – an innovative course that runs in partnership with Duchy College at Rosewarne.

One of the most prestigious events in the gardening calendar, attracting over 150,000 visitors each year, as well as television viewers from around the world, Chelsea will provide these students with the enviable chance to take their place in horticultural history, before they even graduate.

Their vision for Porthgwyr (Green Harbour) – a garden that combines a Cornish arts café with gallery space, and contemporary style with sustainability, certainly caught the eye of the Royal Horticultural Society’s selection panel.  Selected from hundreds of applications, the garden is one of only six to have been chosen for inclusion in the Chic Garden category, and can be seen at Stand RHW 43.

“Our design is about celebrating the Cornwall of today, based on a new era of industry – education, creativity, innovation and tourism,” explains Aline.  “The design has been developed to allow a range of artworks to be displayed, on walls, within window apertures, set within planting and hanging from screens to illustrate the rich relationship between Cornish gardens, the coastal landscape, and Cornwall’s vibrant, creative community.”

Their seaside gallery space is defined by its strong, sensuous curves – a simple representation of the Cornish coastline – to provide ‘safe harbour’ for the artwork that has been created by students from University College Falmouth’s BA(Hons) degrees in Contemporary Crafts, Fine Art, 3D Design and Textile Design.  Ben Barrell’s curved ‘Crescent Bench’ cantilevers over a pool of water.  The shape, colour and texture of the planting has been designed to create an atmosphere of seclusion, privacy and quiet.  A light, airy canopy reflects the openness of the gallery space whilst vibrant green and glossy silver foliage reflect available sunlight.

“We wanted to create a garden that captured the spirit of Cornwall, that made people stop and stare, and that promoted sustainability so we have utilised environmentally sustainable materials, wherever possible,” adds Debra.  “Locally-grown sweet chestnut decking from Tregothnan Estate has been lined with setts created from recycled glass by UCF BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts students, Tammy Falls and Louise Batchelor, to mimic light on water; and the walls are coated in a natural lime wash of saffron provided by the Cornish Lime Company.”

“Hardy Exotics, Trevena Cross and Duchy Nurseries have very kindly loaned us several striking, mature specimens as well as supplying the remainder of the plants that we have selected,” continues Karen.  “We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the local businesses and craftspeople who have helped us on our way and in particular, University College Falmouth, Duchy College Rosewarne and Bond Landscaping, without whose generous sponsorship our garden would not have been possible.”

“Aline, Debra and Karen have devised a design that not only reflects their passion for horticulture, garden design and Cornwall, but also a wealth of inspiration drawn from their individual backgrounds,” says BA(Hons) Garden Design Course Leader, Richard Sneesby, who is himself a Chelsea medal-winner. 

Prior to enrolling on Falmouth’s course, Aline, originally from France and Ireland, had studied forestry in Vancouver and sailed around the world for three years; Karen had worked in the animation industry on feature films for the likes of Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros; and Debra had relocated from Australia to London, but left her corporate career as a result of seeing a brochure about the course during a Cornish holiday – so all of them have a global perspective to add to their knowledge and design expertise.

“Following on from the recent success of our Falmouth Designs exhibition at the Design Museum in London and our Design X exhibit at Milan’s international Design Week, Chelsea provides our design students with yet another high-profile opportunity to showcase their work to a national and international audience,” concludes Director of Design, John Miller.  “We warmly congratulate Aline, Debra and Karen on their success so far, and very much hope that Porthgwyr attracts the attention it deserves.”

Porthgwyr may be the fulfilment of one ambition, but what is certain is that this talented trio is set to go far.  

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