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RHS Chelsea 2019: Duff’s Savills & David Harber Garden

RHS Chelsea 2019: Duff’s Savills & David Harber Garden


Andrew Duff’s first Chelsea Garden is all about the benefits of green spaces


Chelsea newcomer Andrew Duff MSGD is making his debut with a garden on Main Avenue for Savills and sculptor David Harber, whom he has worked with for more than 25 years. Duff and Harber’s shared love of nature has inspired the design, which brings to mind a sun-spangled clearing in a verdant urban woodland.

The garden is a celebration of the environmental and mental health benefits of green spaces, and Duff has chosen pollution-absorbing mature trees, such as Carpinus betulus and Alnus glutinosa, to convey a sense of calm in the city and show visitors how such as scheme can bring a host of benefits yet be easy to maintain.

Endorsed by the research organisation the Environmental Change Institute, which helped Duff with the initial design stages, the garden showcases a water-purifying wetland area, a green wall and permeable surfaces. The wall filters pollution from the air, while a filtration pool cleans grey water and stores it for irrigation use. The central pool also features a sculptural installation by Harber, comprising a shadow of ‘leaves’ that flutter on the water’s surface, and a 3.5m shard reaching high into the trees.

The woodland clearing features meadow turf interplanted with 10,000 perennial and biennial nectar-rich species, to attract pollinating insects. A colour palette of soft whites and greens infuses the garden with calming colours, while dots of acid yellow lift the planting and represent dappled sunlight.

“I wanted the garden to have an environmental message,” Duff explains, “I researched woodlands all over the world, from Slindon Woods in West Sussex to the Saihoji Kokedera Moss Garden in Kyoto, to capture the sense of calm you feel when walking through them. ‘Stand still, pause and the garden will reveal itself’ is my ethos for the design.”


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