Alumnus reveals design for RHS Flower Show Tatton Park Garden

June 2021

Image for press release - Writtle University College Alumnus James Smith
(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)

Writtle University College (WUC) alumnus, James Smith, has been invited to showcase a stunning new garden design at the 2021 RHS Flower Show Tatton Park Garden. The garden will be built by Topoforma Landscape.

This is only one of many achievements for James, who graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Landscape & Garden Design in 2017. An RHS Young Designer of the Year Finalist 2021, he was also listed as one of Pro Landscaper magazine's '30 Under 30'.

James' new garden design may be one of his most exciting achievements to date. 'It's Okay Not To Be Okay' highlights the importance of mental health, following a particularly challenging year. James hopes that his design will draw attention to the obstacles people face and offer them a safe, cathartic space for discussion.

He said: "I am delighted to be exhibiting my show garden at such a prestigious RHS Flower Show. It has been a lifetime goal of mine. To have this opportunity to showcase such an important message is a great honour."

"My time at Writtle University College provided me with the skills and confidence to propel me into the world of landscape and garden design."

All structures and materials throughout the garden have been designed to ensure that the space feels as natural as possible. Four stunning solid oak pillars that are placed throughout the area, tucked into the planting, to represent the one in four people who experience mental health issues.

The porcelain paving that is used throughout, contrasts with the planting and reflects the bright path that leads you to a safe space. A sunken seating area, lined with natural corten edging and decorative grey gravel, creates a relaxing place in which to sit down and talk.

A water feature represents calmness and tranquillity, while the sunken seating area offers an enclosed environment for discussion.

Plants are essential to the overall feel and theme. Betula pendula and Betula nigra are used in one segment of the garden to provide the sense of a breakthrough when you pass them.

The central tree in the seating area, a Tilia x Europaea 'Pallida', provides the sense of safety and homeliness for the user; sunlight filtering through the leaves has a verdant, delicate quality which can relax the user and decrease levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness.

A mixture of grasses and perennials are used to aid in the movement and sound of the garden; the soft array of textures and colours have a restorative and soothing effect. On the outer edges of the garden, the planting features a higher proportion of ornamental grasses to flowering perennials, while the inner area has a stronger proportion of perennials.

James believes this will evokes the sense that once the barrier of stigma has been broken, individuals can see the world around them with greater clarity and detail.

RHS Flower Show Tatton Park Garden will bring gardeners and plant lovers together from 21 - 25 July. For more information visit the RHS website.

For information on Writtle University College's MA in Garden Design, click here