Award-winning landscape contractors Bowles & Wyer are on site at RHS Chelsea this month to manage the complex build of the Warner’s Distillery Garden including the installation of a number of complicated water features and a pavilion clad in hand built drystone walling.
The garden, which has been designed by Helen Elks-Smith, includes a series of water features that have been designed to appear from various points in the garden as if from a natural spring, creating gentle arcs and streams that flow quietly through the space before disappearing into the ground. Bowles & Wyer must construct the features to meet Helen’s exact specifications as to how the water should look and sound, while concealing the huge amount of pipework needed to facilitate them, within the structure.
Sited at the centre of the garden, the pavilion, which will be clad in traditional drystone walling, will feature two large cantilevered roofs and protruding water rills, supported by a large steel frame, from where water will fall onto the wall below before flowing out over boulders and turf lower down. More water will flow down a central chimney, through a string of copper fins, each cut with a different sized hole to create a gentle rippling sound before falling silently into a copper container at the base. To create the precise sound and visual effects required Bowles & Wyer has conducted numerous trials off site working with water expert Andrew Ewing and Aztec model makers to create real scale mock-ups and hone the design.
Construction of the pavilion including the steel frame, cantilevered roofs and most of the drystone walling has also been carried out off site before being carefully transported to the showground to be reassembled and completed before planting begins.
Dan Riddleston, Managing Director at Bowles & Wyer, who is leading the build project, said: “The complexity of so many different water features each with precise specifications and requirements is one that has really tested our engineering skills but it has given us a challenge that we have really enjoyed. To achieve the right effect, each component has to come together with absolute precision and even a small change in height or texture can affect the movement and sound it creates. Our job is to make sure that Helen’s design is executed beautifully and that everything is exactly as she envisaged. Putting everything together on site is the last stage of a long process and I can’t wait to see the result”.
Other features on the garden will include a glass wall created by Artist Wendy Newhofer, a large stone water trough lined with copper, and furniture designed by Helen Elks-Smith in collaboration with the team at Jack Badger, all of which Bowles & Wyer will be coordinating on site to ensure swift and easy transition into the garden.
The garden is inspired by the natural springs at Falls Farm in Northamptonshire - home to Warners Gin – and references the local landscape and agricultural heritage, as well as the Farm’s gin distillery.
Helen Elks-Smith said: “Working with water is always a challenge and creating so many water features at once was always going to be complex but knowing that Bowles & Wyer was handling everything has given me complete peace of mind throughout the entire process. Seeing it all come together has been a real thrill and it’s thanks to Dan and his team that the garden is now being bought to life exactly as I imagined.
"The whole project has been so enjoyable, to work with a group of people who are all playing their A game is wonderful. The attention to detail, the willingness and determination to go that extra bit, to push for perfection and for that to underlie everything with quiet focus is completely joyous.”