Peas & Love: The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 Seedlip Garden

In the second part of our RHS Chelsea 2018 round up, we will focus on the Seedlip Garden, which was in the new “Space to Grow” category.

Following last year’s Gold medal winning garden in the ‘Artisan’ category, Catherine MacDonald designed a larger garden for Seedlip , in the new ‘Space to Grow’category, which was quite simply “a celebration of the pea”. Everything within the garden from it’s concept, layout, construction to the planting was in some way related to the humble garden pea, Pisum sativum.

The Seedlip Garden 2018 designed by Dr Catherine MacDonald

Catherine and her team had a slightly more taxing build than Mark Gregory, partly as Catherine had set herself the unprecedented challenge of using a palette of plants exclusively from one plant family (the Fabaceae or pea family), something which no other RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden has ever tried to do before. It was quite a risk, but the gamble ultimately paid off when Catherine, Ben Branson and the team were awarded an RHS GOLD Medal, testament to all their hard work.

“Two peas in a pod!” Catherine with Seedlip founder Ben Branson in The Peavilion

Left: Dr Catherine MacDonald with the GOLD medal. Right: The Seedlip Garden Team.

The stand out feature of the garden was the bright green façade of the “Peavilion”, fabricated by Outdoor Design, formed of 1300 aluminium tubes welded together and with a round entrance, all inspired by the round, green form of the pea. The green-toned circular paving, peapod patterned stainless steel grilles and artwork on the green walls of the garden also echoed this theme. The Peavilion housed treasures and paraphernalia linked to the pea and even had a peapod “popping” sound and a pea mist to awaken the senses.

Celebrity Jasmine Hemsley on the Seedlip Garden for Press Day, wearing Dolce & Gabbana

Science was always at the heart of the garden, inspired by her PhD in the field of genetics the layout of Catherine’s design was a nod to ‘father of genetics’, Gregor Mendel, who established many of the laws of inheritance by crossing over 28,000 pea plants. While the three water features were dyed using a powder of sweet pea flowers, and in one case the colour changed by adding citric acid to adjust the PH of the water. The garden was truly a compendium in praise of the pea!

The Seedlip Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald

Visitors to the garden were surprised and impressed at the diversity of the Fabaceae (pea) family which included some of the following ornamental plants & trees: lupins, clovers, wisteria, laburnum, sweet peas, acacia, carob and Japanese pagoda trees to name just a few. However, by far the biggest fans of the planting were the bees!

Details of the garden as taken by photographer Brian War

Of course, edibles were the main focus of the planting, which showcased broad beans, garden peas and also many unusual varieties of snap & snow peas, bred by ‘father of the sugar snap pea’ Dr Calvin Lamborn. By the end of the show week, Calvin’s peas had produced some beautifully coloured pea pods!

More details from the garden, including the water feature, grilles and paving.

We would like to thank the construction and planting team as well as Outdoor Design, Hortus Loci, Calvin’s Peas, London Stone, Gadd Brothers, Dudley Garden Joinery, Pearson Design, Gaze Burvill, Urbis Design and Stanton & Brian Lighting.

Here is a short film about the making of The Seedlip Garden 2018 and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show experience.

If you want to read our round-up on the RHS Chelsea 2018 Welcome to Yorkshire Garden, click here.