Whilst the plants are invariably what most people flock to see at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, every show garden relies on a construction team to prep the ground, dig holes, crane in large trees, erect all manner of boundary walls and construct striking hard landscaping features. The Facebook Garden - Beyond the Screen has been designed by Joe Perkins and will be built by The Outdoor Room.
Water is an integral part of this coastal inspired garden and makes up around 35% of the surface area. Water connects all of us geographically and physically and is in itself a constantly evolving and shifting landscape. In the garden, water is used as a metaphor for the positive connectivity and opportunity made possible through social media, and the dynamic nature of technology.
The energy of a wave represents social interaction. It will wash water across the 'tidal' pool and over layered rock formations. The movement of the water has been trialled using a full scale model of the pool including rocks and pebbles to form a beach.
Rock formations which will have coastal species planted in the gaps and crevices representing the sedimentary rocks known as 'Flysch' which make up part of the Basque coastline; the original inspiration for the garden.
The drama of this landscape needed to be captured by a stone which could be quarried in large pieces. Expert advice from Giles Heap at CED Stone and several trips around the country led to Joe eventually choosing Caithness stone. This is a mudstone from the far northeast of Scotland which has beautiful textures and colours ranging from dark grey to orange. It is quarried from huge flat shelved layers and has great structural strength, meaning that some of the pieces in the garden will be over 3 metres long.
A path in the same stone, and made from just 3 large pieces, connects the front of the garden to a large deck overhanging the water. The deck is constructed from reclaimed tropical hardwood recovered from a slipway after storm damage. It has a rugged weathered appearance which fits the garden's character and of course its link to the sea again references the coastal theme.
Copper is used in a wave-form sculpture which forms a canopy over the timber deck. The copper ‘wave’ symbolises the industrial properties of technology and references the theme of connectivity. The sculpture will be made from a series of interconnecting panels of a fine copper mesh, laid over a steel frame, which will be both transparent and opaque depending on the angle from which it is viewed.
The garden colour palate is essentially green, yellow and white with accents of blue, although a hint of red or orange may creep in! Texture is courtesy of grey foliage shrubs suited to bright sunlight, they are also drought and salt resistant, perfect for the coastal setting. Architecturally, the boundary is imagined as an informal shrub planting going from the coastal area to a more dense, further inland environment.