East Sussex gardener heading to RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Charlotte Pearson talks to a Catsfield gardener about Hampton Court, light and being able to taste words.
A CAD drawing of a London courtyard garden Sarah has designedA CAD drawing of a London courtyard garden Sarah has designed
A CAD drawing of a London courtyard garden Sarah has designed

Most people love a plan or a to do list, especially if they are going to be part of a massive event like the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

“I started really early getting a list of what I needed to all the nurseries,” admits gardener Sarah Wilson. “But then when I started to put it all together some things just didn’t work.

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“I think I will still be working and changing the garden right up until show day, running around getting things sorted.”

Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson

Sarah’s design will be featured in the ‘conceptual gardens’ section.

“Hampton Court always asks people to pitch ideas for its conceptual garden and the theme this year is senses, which really appealed to me,” she says.

“I’m aiming to raise awareness of the trait synaesthesia, which is a condition whereby people with it experience multi-sensory experiences to one sensory stimuli, so some will ‘taste’ words or see music in colour.

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“I’m working with the UK Synaesthesia Association and the garden is sponsored by DialAFlight, and Lush Ltd gave us some money towards it. ”

Sarah admits she used podcasts to research synaesthesia.

“It is really interesting, and not many people have heard of it,” she adds.

“Not many people know they have it either. I’m hoping that when people walk in they realise they don’t see things in the same way as other people and may realise they have it.

“I have worked really closely with the president of the UK Synaesthesia Association and tried to include as many of his suggestions as I can.

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“I can’t use everything but it has been great to get an insight and be able to incorporate some of it in the garden.”

The eight metre diameter tent will feature plants and mirrored sculptures and the whole inside of the tent will change colour intermittently via LED lights.

“The idea is constantly evolving,” reveals Sarah “I initially wanted white flowers but when I put it under the lights it looked really boring. I have been amazed at how the lights work with different plants.

“We also played with UV light, how it can pick out colours and reacts differently with the chemicals in the plants. It is really fascinating.”

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Although the conceptual garden is a little more creative than the show gardens Sarah says there are Royal Horticultural Society guidelines you have to adhere to.

“You can’t have food,” she begins, “you aren’t usually allowed music as it can be a nuisance to other people, but as we have the garden in a yurt we are allowed to.

“At first the garden was going to have people look into it through eye holes but for it to work best we couldn’t have any artificial light, so it changed to a yurt and has just grown, getting bigger and bigger.

“It is not very often at Hampton Court that people get to walk through it but we thought it would be best.”

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Originally working in marketing, Sarah fancied a change of pace and decided to become a gardener.

“I did volunteer work with the National Trust,” she recalls. “And did a course at Kew Gardens and trained with RHS.”

Through her business Galanthus Gardening Services, Sarah does both maintenance and design work.

“I think I prefer maintenance work,” reveals Sarah. “I love both but with the maintenance side it means you can get out and about and be outside with the plants. Whereas with the design aspect it is very much about being sat behind a desk. It is more creative but you don’t get to be outside which I really enjoy.”

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A gardener for six years, Sarah admits that the conceptual garden idea appealed more to her than doing a show garden.

“During my course I was always drawn to the public gardens that had something a bit different to them,” she says. “I would love to do a show garden but I think after this one it will probably seem a bit boring.”

For more information about Galanthus Gardening Services please visit here

This article was taken from the June edition of etc, your free, monthly lifestyle magazine. For more stories like this, visit here

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