New designer brings immersive water garden to Hampton Court

First-time show garden designer Cherry Carmen will realise a career ambition of creating a garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show next week - despite just finishing a round of chemotherapy.

Cherry Carmen has designed her first Hampton Court garden. Image: Samuel North
Cherry Carmen has designed her first Hampton Court garden. Image: Samuel North

Backed by sponsor and contractor Living Landscapes and charity Perennial, "Immerse" will be entered into the show's popular Water Garden category, which has been reintroduced this year after an eight-year absence.

"Immerse" reflects the work of Perennial, the charity that looks after gardeners and everyone who cares for green spaces when times get tough. Having just finished a second round of chemotherapy for kidney cancer, Carmen understands from personal experience the value of this type of support.

The designer, from Horsham, West Sussex, said: "I have always wanted to design a show garden for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and so when Tecwyn got in touch, I jumped at the chance. We work closely with Living Landscapes on other projects and so we know the team well.

"Together with CED Stone Ltd, who are donating the hard landscaping, and the support team at Perennial, it is an exhilarating experience to see my garden design featured at a show that I have enjoyed attending and working at."

Emerging from illness, Carmen's design flows with positive energy, capturing a sense of being protected and nurtured, as well as revitalised and inspired. It incorporates an innovative recessed seating area below ground level, with cascading water walls on three sides forming an intimate space for reflection.

The hard landscaping from CED Stone gives the garden its strong, modern lines, while the unstructured, textured planting adds softness. Planting on the upper level is grassy, with lots of movement. Plane trees, trained to form a parasol, are under-planted with woodland shade-loving wildflowers. Moving down the stairs, there is an abundance of lush, wide-leafed plants.

Tecwyn Evans, managing director of Living Landscapes, said: "Perennial does great work for people in need in our industry and I'm proud to be working with them on this garden. Collaborating with Cherry is going to be fantastic too, I've known her for a long time and will enjoy seeing her fulfil her ambition to create a garden at the world's biggest annual flower show. It will also be exciting for us all to exhibit in the revived water gardens category."

Commenting about the project, Perennial Development Manager Laura Garnett said: "Perennial exists to help all horticulturists in times of need. We help people like Cherry who are facing life-changing challenges and illnesses every year with free and confidential advice, financial support and wider social help.

"But we also have a role to play in supporting Cherry and her team to realise her dream to build this show garden. It is testament to the UK horticulture industry's ability to collaborate and willingness to help those in need that we are able to bring this garden to the show."

CouCou Design, Griffin Nurseries, Landscape Plus, North Hill Nurseries, Oase, KC Fibreglass, Anglo Aquatics and Verdon Grey have also been involved in the project.

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