Norwegian garden at Chelsea Flower Show aims to counter Norway's scepticism about garden design

The entry of a Norwegian garden in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is helping to further erode that country's traditional scepticism about garden design.

Kebony design. Image: Darren Saines
Kebony design. Image: Darren Saines

This is the view of Darren Saines, who is designing the Kebony - Naturally Norway garden for the show next month.

Although British, Saines has been designing gardens in Norway for the past 11 years and said it had been a challenge to change people's view of the industry.

"People were very sceptical about using a garden designer, although they were quite happy using interior designers," he explained. "But things have im-proved dramatically since I first arrived and at the moment, a garden by a known designer makes a big difference to house prices.

"It has been an experience to win over scepticism, but to have an entry in Chelsea makes people believe there is a very thriving garden industry and that we can achieve more than they think."

The Naturally Norway garden may be Saines' first foray into designing for Chelsea, but it has been an ambition he has nurtured for more than two decades.

He told HW he believed the challenge of Chelsea would be tough - but his experiences designing gardens in Norway would stand him in good stead.

The BBC will be following Saines in the run-up to the show, and have plans to film at a garden he designed in the town of Bordo in the Arctic Circle.

"This is where I'm no stranger to challenges," he laughed. "In Bordo there is complete darkness for six months of the year. But you would be surprised by the number of alpine plants that can grow there."

He added that the challenges in England - such as the recent hard winter - were eclipsed by issues facing gardeners in Norway.

In his Chelsea garden, which is being built by Peter Dowle Plants and Gardens, the showpiece will be a 60-year-old stunted Pinus sylvestris that has been extracted from a Norwegian quarry. Three other German-grown forest pines will tower 12m above the garden, which also features a waterfall, pavilion and outdoor kitchen.

"The stunted pine is very typical of the Norwegian landscape," he explained. "But having come from a quarry, it was going to be blown up. The process of removing the tree will take around two weeks.

Next to Kebony at Chelsea will be a garden by Roger Platts, and Saines added he was looking forward to meeting the "highly respected plantsman" as well as other designers including Robert Myers and Andy Sturgeon.


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