Max Harriman, junior designer at landscape company Bowles & Wyer, is one of five new designers who will be exhibiting at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show this year as part of the Young Designer Competition, with a garden designed to help city dwellers escape the stresses of urban life.
Titled ‘Calm in Chaos’, the garden will use design elements to encourage visitors to slow down and spend more time looking, touching and interacting with the natural environment, in order to reap the restorative benefits of being in a garden.
The Young Designers Competition is one of the highlights of RHS Tatton, throwing a spotlight on emerging talent and giving aspiring garden designers, aged 28 and under, the chance to launch their careers and gain exposure at a prestigious RHS Flower Show. This year, as the competition celebrates its 10th anniversary, designers were asked to create a garden highlighting the benefits that plants and gardening have on health and wellbeing.
Max Harriman said: “I’m thrilled to have been selected as a finalist in the Young Designer Competition and am really looking forward to experiencing the excitement of creating a garden for an RHS show. Modern life, particularly in urban environments, is increasingly deprived of green space.
“The connection between horticulture, or being in a green space, and improvements to mental wellbeing has long been documented in scientific literature. Gardening reconnects us to nature, keeps us active and takes us outside. I hope the garden will give visitors a sense of calm against the backdrop of the show just as it would do in the chaos of an urban setting.”
At the centre of the garden, a meandering path will produce a feeling of space, allowing a longer walk through the plot and encouraging visitors to slow down as they wander through. A series of timber posts form the main feature, framing the path at different heights and angles and partially obscuring the view, so that new aspects of the space open up as visitors make their way through; and, in the middle, a reflective water bowl provides a place to stop and think – a brief escape from the stresses of urban life.
Planting has been designed to provide a lush and exuberant feeling, reflecting the style of a naturalistic woodland with coppiced hazel, hornbeam hedging and shade-loving plants giving visitors the sense that they have been removed from the urban environment. Colours are fresh and green, with a rich tapestry of textures, shapes and leaf forms to stimulate visitors as they move through the space, distract them from the pressures of urban life and increase the restorative effect of the garden. White and cream flowers including Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’, Astrantia major ‘Large White’ and Vinca minor ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, add to the sense of tranquillity and brighten up shadier spots.
Following the show, the garden will be relocated to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge where it will be given a permanent home as the ‘NHS 70 Garden’ celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS and offering a calm and restorative space away from the main hospital for patients and their families. The garden will be the fifth garden designed by Bowles & Wyer for the Cambridge University Hospitals.
The RHS Young Designer competition has successfully launched the careers of a number of high profile garden designers including Hugo Bugg, Sam Ovens and Tamara Bridge, who have gone on to create show gardens at other RHS Show as well as forging successful careers designing for private clients.
John Wyer CEO at Bowles & Wyer said: “Max is a hugely talented member of the team here at Bowles & Wyer whose ability and ambition has been evident from the start. Nuturing talent within the industry is central to what we do at Bowles and Wyer and we’re thrilled that one of our young designers has been chosen as a finalist in such a prestigious competition.
“Having the opportunity to relocate the garden to a permanent location at Addenbrookes Hospital is also a wonderful opportunity for him. I wish him the best of luck and look forward to watching his progress as his career develops.”