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RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016: Hugo Bugg’s RBC garden design

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016: Hugo Bugg’s RBC garden design


Hugo Bugg is returning to Chelsea with another waterwise garden, says Emma Reuss


Rising star Hugo Bugg is back this year to design his second garden championing the Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) Blue Water Project. His 2014 RBC garden for them marked his Chelsea debut and despite his youth and inexperience, he took home a Gold medal (he was the youngest ever designer to do this).

This garden is an extension of his 2014 garden in that it harnesses the project’s principles of accessible water; but this time he is celebrating water not just as a practical commodity but as an ‘entity sacred to humankind’. “It’s the element that cleanses and heals, sculpts and softens, brings barren landscapes to life and lifts our spirits,” he explains.

The design is an interpretation of the deserts of Jordan, with irregular black basalt mounds pushing up through the ground. These, as with all the hard structures in the garden, are very geometrical, specifically polyhedral. The central mound is actually icosahedral, which has 20 equal triangular faces, and this holds a triangularshaped pool. The garden’s boundary is of sculptural stone and a traditional woven Bedouin goat wool fabric.

The planting focuses on the Mediterranean pine landscape to be found in the Dibeen Forest Reserve in the northwestern hills of Jordan, which he visited while working on another project. Apparently the concept and plant list have been an ongoing project for the past two years, and have involved many trips into the field to identify suitable species for the garden.

Many uncommon plants will be included in the garden, most of which have had to be grown from seed, which has been sourced with great difficulty. ‘Uncommon’ is perhaps an understatement; Mark Straver from Hortus Loci, who is rising to this challenge, told me that of the 200-odd varieties on Hugo’s schedule, he probably recognised one.

Hortus Loci is currently growing around 8,000 plants, which is rather more than normal for a large show garden, because the sort of varieties featured leaves no opportunity for contingency from elsewhere, in case of mishaps. “The risk of using such an unusual and radical planting palette is both challenging and exciting for me,” Hugo admits, “but it should help us stand out at the show.”


Hugo’s Chelsea show team:
SPONSOR: Royal Bank of Canada
CONTRACTOR: Landscape Associates and Himalayan Landscaping
STONE MASON: David F. Wilson www.dfwilson.co.uk
PLANTING: Hortus Loci www.hortusloci.co.uk


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