Skip to main content

RHS Chelsea 2019: Elks-Smith’s Warner’s Distillery Garden

RHS Chelsea 2019: Elks-Smith’s Warner’s Distillery Garden


Helen Elks-Smith designed several water elements for her first Main Avenue garden


The second Chelsea garden and first on Main Avenue for Helen Elks-Smith MSGD is for sponsor Warner’s Distillery, formerly Warner Edwards. Her design reflects the landscape at Falls Farm in Northamptonshire – home of Warner’s – with water running quietly through the space, creating gentle arcs and streams.

Central to the design is a pavilion with drystone walls, with two cantilevered roofs and a ‘chimney’ from which water flows down through a string of copper fins, which mimic the internal engineering of ‘Curiosity’, Warner’s copper pot still. A blue glass panel by artist Wendy Newhofer adds a decorative focal point, and a sheltered seating area in front of the pavilion anchors the design and creates a contemplative space from which to admire the landscape.

Elks-Smith says the linear quality of the pavilion’s roofs and protruding rills offer a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater. “The terracing, ditches and the remains of a once grand manor house at Falls Farm were a real inspiration to me. I wanted to achieve the same harmonious union between design and nature.”

The planting references the pastoral setting of Falls Farm and includes species that complement Warner’s ethos of giving back to nature by providing habitats and food for birds, bees and butterflies. Elks- Smith has created four planting zones, with a relaxed Mediterranean-style border, featuring lavender, irises and alliums, punctuated with shaggy yew ‘pillows’, merging into wildflower turf, and a native hedgerow underplanted with ferns and grasses wrapping around the pavilion.

“The water elements in the garden were the most challenging features. You have to nail down the details and ensure the water flows in the right way, at the right speed, and generates the right sound to create the atmosphere I want.”

You might like

Most recent features