A garden for the future at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Landscape designer Joe Perkins reveals what inspired his Chelsea Flower show garden.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 11:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 11:21 am
2019's Beyond the Screen garden Picture: Natalia Odescalchi

Current figures show that 13 per cent of the UK is covered by trees. Experts predict 1.5 billion will need to be planted if the UK is to meet its pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Award-winning landscape designer Joe Perkins is showcasing a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, it flags up the importance of increasing the UK’s tree coverage in an effort to combat climate change for future generations.

The Facebook Garden: Growing the Future will champion timber as a versatile, beautiful and sustainable product.

Joe Perkins

“The whole construction will be made from timber,” explained Joe.

“This includes a timber walkway, woodland bank, a timber canopy and timber pavilion.

“I have used other variations from places like Germany, that we could grow over here in the future if the temperature continues to change. If it does in the same way it is at the moment we won’t be able to support the trees we already have.

“I didn’t want the garden to be naturalistic but more modern in design.”

Artist's impression of 2020's Growing the Future

The freeform 6m by 4m wooden canopy will sit at the heart of the garden. It has a delicate lattice shape reflecting the unique and integral role fungi play in the health and wellbeing of a forest.

Joe said: “I have looked a lot into the relationship between funghi and trees.

“They co-exist together, so the funghi embeds into the roots of the tree and ensures it gets more nutrients, and the tree then provides the funghi with sugars.

“The fungi also links the trees up with each other so they can communicate with each other if they need to, something that I felt was quite apt working with Facebook.”

The space celebrates how gardens and a love of nature can bring people together, creating a powerful sense of community from online groups to getting outside.

Joe was also inspired by the British countryside so has included a wildflower meadow, little stream and copse.

He said: “Our woodlands are so important for protecting our planet, they’re complex ecosystems that are vital to our everyday lives. However, work needs to be accelerated on how we can utilise these to help society and the environment flourish together in the future. I’m especially keen to highlight how important it is to plant ecologically relevant trees that encourage genetic diversity and help bolster our wildlife heritage.”

This year’s garden is sponsored by Facebook, and is the second time Joe has worked with the social media company.

Last year the 42-year-old garden designer won three awards in his debut Space to Grow category with his Beyond the Screen garden.

Brighton-based Joe was awarded RHS gold medal, best construction, and the converted best in category, a first for any RHS Chelsea Flower Show newcomer.

“Although I have worked at Chelsea for the last 12 years, but I was building gardens for other big designers,” he revealed.

“Chelsea Flower Show is like a wedding you see the same old faces and people. But it is a lovely community of people.

“You do a get bug for it, and you have to apply before the end of June so quite quickly after the last one but as I had waited so long to do it I jumped at the chance to sign up.”

Joe’s garden’s chosen charity is the National Forest.

Joe said: “I’m excited to be working with Facebook and the National Forest to bring this important issue into the forefront. Getting people engaged is the first step.

“I hope that by visiting the garden and hearing inspiring stories from community groups, more people will take action to create and look after our woodlands for the future.”

The garden will also be given a permanent home through the charity.

“It is nice that will be used as an educational tool afterwards,” said Joe.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place May 19 until the 23. For more information visit, www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-showFor more information on Joe and to see more of his work, visit www.joeperkinsdesign.com