Steve Swatton wins Best Construction Award for Cleve West's Chelsea garden

Swatton Landscape's work building the M&G Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show has won the newly introduced Best Construction Award.

The M&G Garden. Image: HW
The M&G Garden. Image: HW

A stone and gravel path leads through woodland edge planting, past stunted oaks and rocks to a smoother path, a sunken terrace and pool.

Swatton Landscape - now in their ninth year at Chelsea - have done "a fantastic job", West said. "The stonework especially is their speciality."

The landscaping team had finished the bulk of the work by Friday thanks to "good teamwork and cooperation" as well as good weather, West said, allowing the plants several days to relax. "But we didn't knock off early - we kept working to the wire."

"We set it all out so we knew where all the stone was going, so we had a good feel for the space before it went in. The difficult part was getting the trees and stones in sequence, getting all the lifting in done right. It was all quite complicated."

The sunken terrace at the centre of the garden is made of grey sandstone, sourced from The Forest of Dean by Lichen Garden Antiques.

The garden was inspired by West's memories of the ancient oak woodland on Exmoor National Park, where he spent his teen years.

"It's largely a celebration of the moment when landscape got its claws into me, some 45 years ago. I wasn't interested in gardening at all but I loved the landscape and that's the important thing - [gardening] came out later on."

Hortus Loci supplied the plants, with key species including downy oak (Quercus pubescens), honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), whortleberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), golden columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha), brook thistle (Cirsium atropurpureum), mountain cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum 'Bill Wallis'), Iris sibirica and wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca).

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