Jo Thompson's blog

Jo Thompson's blog

After eight show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, I’m heading north to the new RHS Chatsworth show this June to create the Brewin Dolphin Garden for 2017.

It’s an exciting project for me. The 1,000-acre Chatsworth estate is extraordinary in scale after the rigid confines of RHS Chelsea where I spent many years designing gardens to sit within a 20 x 12 metre boundary. The incredible setting of Chatsworth offers quite a different perspective. I hope my intervention to the site is one that will feel appropriate in the landscape surrounding the elegant and beautiful Chatsworth House.

I’ve been given a wonderful position on the banks of the River Derwent in an area of the show known as the ‘Free Form’ arena, which is intended to encourage “a diverse freedom of express through sculptural design”.

The garden is more of a horticultural installation than a traditional show garden. It’s made up of a series of garden areas dotted throughout an imposing contemporary sculpture that will sweep through the space in a series of wide curves, before cantilevering dramatically out over the water and sweeping back to the riverbank.

It’s very different to the gardens I’ve designed for RHS Chelsea: the sheer size and scale of the setting has allowed me to push my boundaries this year and create something that I hope will inspire and excite everyone who visits the show. It will also provide a fabulous contemporary viewpoint from which you can enjoy some of Chatsworth’s historic vistas. Chatsworth has a rich history of combining the surprising and contemporary with the historic and traditional. It’s this spirit that I want to reflect in The Brewin Dolphin Garden this year.

There are many challenges ahead. The biggest of which is creating a garden where the excavation needed to support a cantilevered sculpture of this scale is hampered by the many archaeological restrictions of such an historic site. More of these challenges to come in my next post...