Jo Thompson's blog - 12 May

Jo Thompson's blog - 12 May

With just four weeks to go until RHS Chatsworth opens its gates for the first time, things are really coming together with the Brewin Dolphin Garden.

The plants have been sourced, trees selected and things are going well at the steel works in Wales where the 70m sculpture that will form the central feature of the garden is being constructed.  

Choosing trees to complement the magnificent woodland in the surrounding parkland of the Chatsworth estate was something I deliberated over for a long time. The 1000-acre estate is packed with rare and ancient species, some of which have been standing for more than 1,000 years since even before Bess of Hardwick began building the original house. I’ve chosen a mixture of majestic field maples and hornbeams, both native, which I think blend perfectly with the ancient and venerable oaks and alders.

After eight years working on show gardens at RHS Chelsea, which falls just before RHS Chatsworth, it’s lovely to be able to use a different palette of plants.  The shows are only two weeks apart but 14 days can make all the difference when it comes to plants and how good, or not, they’ll look on the day.  I’ve decided to create an ornamental meadow, which I think will look wonderful against the vibrant green of the surrounding landscape.  I want it to look relaxed and energetic in soft delicate shades of pink and lavender, so I’ve chosen a mixture of  delicate, pretty flowers including rosa canina, peonies, astrantia and primula japonica. I’m also hoping to use dahlias which, incidentally, are also found in the formal gardens at Chatsworth House.

The next few weeks will be critical in deciding exactly what goes into the garden.  As on all  show gardens, there will be some species which have been grown but have come on too fast and have already flowered, and others which are simply not growing well at all this year. It won’t be until the show is nearly upon us that I’ll make my final selection. More on that, and the 70m sculpture, in my next post!

Jo Thompson