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Garden Tour: A Small Urban Garden Transformed into a Wild Oasis

This show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show brings the wilderness into the heart of the city

Houzz UK and Ireland Editor.

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Looking at this wild and beautiful slice of the Yorkshire Dales, it’s hard to believe it’s actually a show garden, built over the course of a few short weeks on a relatively small plot in the heart of London. Here, the designer, Mark Gregory, explains how you can bring elements of this beautiful design into your own garden.

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Garden at a Glance
Show RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018
Garden Welcome to Yorkshire
Designer Mark Gregory of Landform
Prize awarded Gold Medal Winner; Best Construction Award; The People’s Choice Best Show Garden

The Welcome to Yorkshire landscape garden designed by Mark Gregory was awarded not one, not two, but three medals at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – and looking at these photos, it’s not hard to see why.

Within a relatively small plot, Mark has managed to recreate a slice of the wild and pretty landscape of the Yorkshire Dales and bring all the life, energy and spirit of this beautiful landscape to the heart of London.

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Set on the edge of a ‘woodland’, the garden encompasses a tumbling beck, a stone bothy and softly planted pastures, as well as a combined vegetable and flower garden.

Dry limestone walls dissect the wild ‘meadow’ land and separate the bothy, with its cultivated and romantic cottage garden, from the natural landscape.

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In a woodland area at the back of the garden, Mark has used larch, elder and hazel to create a layered area for wildlife, and the naturalistic planting provides a rich habitat for insects and birds.

A stream tumbles down from this woodland edge, flowing through the entire space, bringing life, movement and sound to the garden.

“My particular favourite place is where the water comes tumbling down and joins the stream,” says Mark. “It just has an energy about it that I can’t really put into words.

“We aren’t the only ones enjoying it, though. Every day, we get a visit from a blackbird, who likes to have a drink and a bathe.”

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A simple covered seating area is tucked in next to the bothy and creates a wonderfully serene spot to sit and reflect on the space.

The wall of the bothy and the green hedgerow enclose the area on two sides, while a sloping roof and climbing wisteria add to the feeling of peace and privacy.

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“The planting is based around a cottage garden,” explains Mark, “so it combines productive with pretty.” This can be seen in the picturesque area in front of the bothy, which mixes flowers and vegetables in a colourful patchwork.

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“If space is limited, adopting this way of planting means you’ll
get the best of both worlds,” Mark explains. “Alpine strawberries make great edging alongside the frothy erigeron or alchemilla.

“Plants such as chives can earn their space by repelling pests while looking pretty and tasting great,” he continues. “Crops such as broad beans deserve a place, because they have wonderful flowers and can be cropped easily once ready.

“They also look perfectly at home when surrounded by the statuesque spires of cottage garden favourites such as lupins, delphiniums and aquilegias.”

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But how about the landscape beyond the cottage garden – is it possible to recreate this style of wild planting in a small city garden? Absolutely, says Mark.

“The most important thing about a garden is that it does what you want it to do. If you want a touch of wildness, then you should have it, and it’s perfectly possible, even in an urban setting.

“You could plant a cultivated meadow mix for the lawn and, rather than introducing the rather thuggish wild or hedgerow flowers into your borders, go with their ‘tamed’ versions,” he says.

“Try Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora, and Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Ruby Port’, as they’re less domineering than their wilder cousins.”

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Hawthorn hedging adds a frothy prettiness to the garden. It’s a simple way to bring a bit of wilderness into your own outdoor space, as it can be trained as a boundary hedge or left to grow a little wilder, as shown here.

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A simple gate and stone footpath entice viewers into this pretty garden.

“I like to think we’ve managed to
share the soul of Yorkshire,” Mark says.

Tell us…
What do you like about this garden? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
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