Thatched benches surrounded by naturalistic planting at the centre of the Jordans wildlife garden at the Hampton Court Palace flower show. Photograph: Nicola Stocken
No matter how many show gardens I design, I’ll never get used to the feeling of accomplishment once my conception starts to come to life. This year, the Jordans Wildlife Garden is no different – if anything, it’s been one of my favourites.
It’s certainly the biggest garden that I have helped to produce. Nearly a year in the making, the garden, which embodies the cereal company’s commitment to nature friendly farming and the British countryside, is nearing its finish and I can finally rest my weary feet.
The garden is designed to inspire gardeners everywhere to support local wildlife, and contains several concepts that are completely new – and although that’s really exciting, it’s also rather nerve-wracking! The nut terrace in particular was a challenge. A “graveled” area made of nuts and acorns – this had the possibility to go terribly wrong, but has in fact worked really well to bring all the messages of the garden together. The garden showcases the natural larder that nature provides for both wildlife and people. The nut terrace is the complete embodiment of this;a literal place that provides nourishment for humans, squirrels and birds. The only problem is stopping squirrels gorging themselves before the garden even opens!
The garden has been a relatively smooth build, all things considered. One always hopes for dry weather during thie run-up to the show, and we’ve been really lucky, but there were times I was praying for rain. At the beginning the weather was so hot that we ended up spending most of our time watering to ensure we didn’t have a wilted garden on our hands. There was also a hairy moment when the leaves on the cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) and the crabapple (Malus) ‘Golden Hornet’ trees were suffering in the heat – but I remembered a tip passed onto me, which proved invaluable. A weak solution of sugar water and the trees were back to their fine glossy selves.
Working with so many collaborators can be daunting, everyone has been exceptionally helpful and supportive – from the chainsaw artist, Ella Fielding, who created the wooden steeping stones, to Wildflower Turf who provided me with the most beautiful meadow and lawn that has brought the garden together. Spencer Jenkins, the artist behind the thatch benches (pictured above) has also been a real joy to work with. These benches are created to provide an area of respite and reflection for people, but also the natural thatch and oak used mean that a variety of wildlife can also use it as a habitat.
Hampton Court is one of the best places to create a garden, especially one that is connected so closely to nature. One evening as I was leaving the site, several deer could be seen from my car – in the twilight it was utterly magical and really puts in perspective what Jordans’ commitment to the British countryside and supporting wildlife is all about.
So with the show now open to the public, I’m still in shock that it’s nearly all over. My main job now is to ensure the garden is still there for visitors to see and hasn’t been consumed by local wildlife!
• The Jordans Wildlife Garden will be on show at the RHS Hampton Court Palace flower show from today to July 13. For more information, visit jordanscereals.co.uk or follow #JordansGoesWild on Twitter.