The partnership between Charlotte Harris, founder of Charlotte Harris Studios and designer of this year’s Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) garden and Hugo Bugg, founder of Hugo Bugg Landscapes, follows on from a number of collaborations including Harris’s work with Bugg on his Royal Bank of Canada garden last year. They were originally introduced by Mark Straver of Hortus Loci.
In 2014 Bugg was one of the youngest Chelsea designers to win a gold medal and was a previous RHS Young Designer of the Year. Harris, who trained under Tom Stuart-Smith, is making her Chelsea design debut on Main Avenue.
Charlotte Harris's deisgn for the RBC Garden. Image: HW
Harris Bugg projects include the design for the new 420-hectare Royal Botanical Gardens currently under construction in Jordan and a Scottish Highland estate.
"I think we both really interested in the spirit of a place and creating a garden or a landscape and not imposing a design on it," Harris told Horticulture Week.
"We’re both really obsessive about detailing and we want to use materials in understanding ways. I feel that whenever we can develop a project creatively we really push it up there. And he’s a really great guy."
Bugg was commissioned by Her Royal Highness Basma bint Ali to design the botanic garden in the north of Jordan and brought Harris on board.
"It’s a vast site and it’s so beautiful," she said. "People think of Jordan as dry but it’s really lush in spring with wild irises and lupins. It’s a steep elevation with beautiful views. Our design is sympathetic to the views. We said that the landscape design needs to lead the creativity. The landscape comes first. The clients really bought into that which is absolutely amazing.
They are also working on a series of gardens at Woking Hospice, which cared for Harris’s mother before she died, a refection garden, a wildlife garden and an encircling garden to cocoon the hospice within horticulture.
Harris said: "We wanted to create a space. Having been there and been there with my mother when she was dying. You only have days, you can’t say that in January the garden doesn’t look that great. There has to be something that’s of interest at all times.
"It feels important. We’re both really interested in doing gardens that have a positive impact on people’s lives."
The practice will work from the designers’ existing bases in Exeter and London for the time being. It is expected to grow from the existing five people but neither designer wants it to get too big.
Bugg said: "Charlotte and I both like being hands on. We value working directly with clients, and being on site. We will never get so large that we become just managers. This is all about us doing what we love and taking it to the next level."
Bugg added: "We want to make spaces that people feel uplifted by and enjoy being in, whether that’s a private garden, a healing space, or an urban oasis in a busy city centre. We have different and complementary strengths but are on the same business and creative wave length."
Harris said she loved the experience of interpreting Canada's vast and ecologically vital boreal forest and freshwater lakes to mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in her RBC Garden design. She chose to visit and camp in the forest, travelling along its waterways by canoe.
The Royal Bank of Canada Garden will be donated and relocated to the WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre in Lancashire following the show.