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11:27am Monday 26th March 2012 in Gardening
FOR a man making his debut at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, TV gardener Joe Swift seems remarkably relaxed, even though advice is being thrown at him from all directions, writes Hannah Stephenson.
“Titchmarsh has been asking me for years when I was going to do a garden. Andy Sturgeon (a Chelsea gold medal winner and competitor at this year’s event), who’s a good friend of mine, has given me some good advice about the approach and organising yourself, how to deal with things on site and how to keep focused, because there are a lot of distractions.”
Swift remains unperturbed, although he is aware of the high level of competition which will ensue as the event draws nearer.
It has taken a year for his Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust garden to come to fruition. The inspiration for it comes from his vision of combining natural elements with city living.
“Living in a city, you notice beautiful natural materials and are physically drawn to them. I have boulders, a huge wooden frame and running water in the show garden.
“The idea is to connect the city and suburban dweller to those natural materials that might not be so prevalent in the city, where you get a lot of concrete and tarmac and other hard elements.
“In a city space you want to keep the focus within the garden because you don’t have the rolling hills beyond to tie in the extended landscape. It’s all about creating key views within a garden, and you can do that in a small garden by placing key sculpture, plants and water here and there.
“People need to think big in a small space. Don’t put loads of little things in a small garden. Put one or two big things in there to make a real impact.”
With this in mind, Homebase has launched the Chelsea Collection, a range of plants inspired by Swift’s design.
“It’s important to be able to take elements of Chelsea home with you but it is the catwalk of design. Very few people are going to create a garden that’s on the level of Chelsea but I think there are loads of ideas for planting.”
Å The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from Tuesday, May 22, to Saturday, May 26. Call 0844 3380338 or visit rhs.org.uk/chelsea.