James Wong considers Liz Earle design job at Ventnor Botanic Garden

Skincare firm Liz Earle has asked ethnobotanist and garden designer James Wong to design a new garden at Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight.

Wong: has won two gold medals
Wong: has won two gold medals

The garden, which would be around 1.4ha of the 9ha site, is in the planning stages. A Liz Earle representative confirmed that discussions are ongoing.

"We are planning to work with Ventnor Botanic Garden more and we are currently in talks with them about a potential Liz Earle Garden in the future," said the representative.

Wong, who won gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 and 2011, joined Liz Earle, which is also based on the island, as an ethnobotanist earlier this year. The company is well known for its natural and botanical products.

Liz Earle - both the company and its eponymous founder - cite the Isle of Wight as an inspiration. On its website, it lists Ventnor Botanic Gardens as one of its favourite island features.

The garden benefits from its own microclimate because of a sheltered location protected by chalk downs, allowing tropical plants to grow outdoors. It features plants from the Americas, New Zealand and Australia gardens as well as on Mediterranean, Japanese and South African terraces.

The site was under threat of being closed by Ventnor Town Council and was kept open after a community interest company headed by local residents John and Mylene Curtis bought it in spring 2012. The bid was supported by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew honorary research associate Susyn Andrews.

In October 2013 it launched the Save the Tropical House appeal after finding several holes in its polycarbonate cladding caused by ultraviolet damage and wind-transported debris. It asked each of the Friends of Ventnor Botanic Gardens to contribute £70 to sponsor a panel to extend the life of the Tropical House for another 25 years.

Ventnor Botanic Garden, formerly hospital grounds then a pleasure garden, opened in 1972 after Sir Harold Hillier of Hillier Nurseries led its replanting.

Liz Earle has also bought a woodland next to its headquarters that is being managed as a natural habitat and a resource for local schools.


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