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RHS Chelsea 2019: Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis Garden

RHS Chelsea 2019: Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis Garden


Thomas Hoblyn was inspired by arid landscapes for his tranquil show garden design


Having taken a seven-year break from RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s Main Avenue, Thomas Hoblyn MSGD is back with a show garden for Dubai. The concept focuses on the ‘majlis’, which in Arabic means ‘place of sitting’ and refers to gatherings where people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and nationalities come together to discuss ideas with an open mind.

Inspired by natural features, such as wind-blown sand dunes and eroded rock formations, together with manmade hillside terraces and the plants that colonise them, Hoblyn’s garden showcases the sculptural beauty of arid landscapes. The main features are two majlis: a sand-dune-inspired pavilion; and a second seating area with a fire pit.

A water source winds through the garden, alluding to nature’s ability to find its way around obstacles and mirroring people’s ability to overcome challenges. Materials used to evoke a Moroccan feel include white limestone and burnt Sienna gravel, which references eroded rock and ferruginous soils often seen in arid areas.

“The garden is almost an antidote to the overuse of social media and modern technology,” says Hoblyn. “In a diverse universe, where everyone strives to make meaningful connections, the garden provides a calm, contemplative space to meet, learn about different cultures and traditions, and discuss future collaborations that will change the world.”

The pavilion was made by Norwegian boat-builder Petter Southall, who steam bent 11m boards to create the structure. “The pavilion has been challenging, as any knot in the wood would lead to disaster,” says Hoblyn. “On a more positive note, all our materials have been sourced in the UK and the garden is being relocated to Newmarket Academy School in Suffolk after the show.”

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