University student designs Hebridean weaver's garden for Chelsea Flower Show

A traditional 1950's Hebridean weaver's garden has been designed by a Nottingham Trent University hortculture student for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Jackie Setchfield’s design has been selected as one of four 5mx4m gardens to go forward to the artisan section of the centenary show, which takes place from May 21-25.

Students from across the university’s horticulture courses are helping to develop the ‘Motor Neurone Disease – A Hebridean Weaver’s Garden’ with Setchfield, who is studying a foundation degree in garden design at the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences.
Her design depicts a garden on the Isle of Lewis, brimming with dye plants, the extracts of which would have been used to dye fleece, and woven to create the famous Harris Tweed cloth. The garden is intended to be a nostalgic look back to an arduous way of life within these tight knit communities, which continued in the Hebrides until the late 1960s.

Plants include ladies bedstraw, bog myrtle, bogbean, knapweed, wetland plants, wildflowers such as harebell, foxgloves and tufted vetch, as well as heathers, ferns, potatoes, onions and cabbages.

The students – along with university environment technician Paul Wright – are helping to cultivate specialist plants and flowers and construct various features of the garden ahead of the show.

The brief for the garden was provided by Motor Neurone Disease Association co-founder, Martin Anderson and it is being created to help raise awareness of the charity. Martin also worked alongside the university five years ago, when his Shetland-inspired show garden won the coveted gold award and the People’s Choice Award at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Setchfield said: "The most challenging aspect of the project has probably been the meticulous research and planning which has gone into this. I have been honoured to have the assistance of all sorts of people eager to help, from the charismatic curator of blackhouse museum on Lewis, the staff at the Harris Tweed mills, to the esteemed librarians at RHS Wisley.

"I have visited the Isle of Lewis to source some of the plants, garden features and materials included in the design to ensure that it is as authentic as possible. It was also vital to feel the atmosphere of the islands themselves, to capture their wild romantic spirit and translate that essence into the build."

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