Paul Hervey-Brookes' RHS Chelsea entry inspired by the garden which turned him onto design

Chelsea-gold winner Paul Hervey-Brookes is returning to the style of garden which turned him from a grower into a garden designer for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The garden under construction last week
The garden under construction last week

His garden on Main Avenue for sponsor BrandAlley, which sells designer labels at discount prices was inspired by Italian Renaissance gardens.

As with all Chelsea designers, he was inspired by his sponsor’s brand ethics but deeper inspiration came from the garden he worked in after university – Villa Barbargio near Padua - during its restoration.

"Up until that point people had said to me that design was one of my strong points but I had always said I’m not really interested, I’m only interested in growing plants.  But it was so great being there, seeing people’s reactions to the garden, seeing the different sections, the vast majority of which were just made out of plants .

"It was the first time I made the connection between growing plants and making spaces out of plants. I realised gardens are so much more than just their component parts."

Other Italian Renaissance gardens Palazzo Doria Truss, Villa Cambiaso and Villa Durazzo Centurione were also influences. Hervey-Brookes  said he used plants native to northern Italy which can thrive in the UK, with structural planting using alder, hornbeam, pines, oaks and lots of clipped box mixed with herbaceous perennials found in semi-woodland grassland settings across northern Italy - artemisia, ballota, globe artichoke, fennel, foxglove and sorrel.

The plants were contract grown at Coblands and Hillier Nurseries.  The contractor is Big Fish Landscapes.

Hervey-Brookes added: "It’s quite important to me to use UK nurseries – we have a fabulous industry with fabulous growers.

"That’s really important to me because I want people to see this garden and take bits away that they can actually do at home. I think sometimes what’s the point in showing something people fall in love with and want to do but it’s not going to work. To me that doesn’t feel right."

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