From a Dark Garden...

 A beautiful view up from the darkness in to the light area of a garden.

The typical gardener's repertoire doesn't devote a large chunk to the darker plants - how many near-black plants can you think of, off hand? To fill half a garden with the darkest of plants would surely be a challenge. Julian worked with expert breeders to produce new varieties, and carefully selected other plants, sculptures and brick-work, to truely shadowy effect.

Plants From Darkness

The plant list Julian and his team have assembled reads like a who's who of the Black and White plant world. A plant sure to appear throughout England's topiaries and potagers in 2005 as a result of this garden, is the black grass Ophiopogon Planiscapus 'Nigrescens'.

The dark garden's stand-out plant combination has to be the Heuchera 'Pewter Veil' flowering in and around Rose Humanityis dark-green leaves and blood-red blooms. It reminded me of Moosey's Continus / Miscanthus and Gypsofila / Dublin Bay combinations.

In the central 'Twilight' area of the garden, another New Zealand plant muscles in : Sambucus Nigra 'Black Lace' provides a stark black contrast to its neighbouring White Californian Cousin Rose and Racemosa 'Plumosa Aureus'.

 One of my favourite planting combinations of Chelsea 2004.
Ophiopogon planiscapus, Humanity Rose and Heuchera 'Pewter Veil'

A New Zealand Garden Sculpture

A large garden sculpture looms out of the centre of the garden. Carved from a piece of seventy year-old native New Zealand Totara Wood - 'Nurture' straddles the gardens cusp, resembling a signpost at the crossroads of light and dark. A 2.5 metre Dantean 'you are here' sign.

 A New Zealand sculpture demonstrates the garden designers' influences.
Chelsea Garden Sculpture

The sculptor Walter Yeoman lives in Waipu, New Zealand. He left New Zealand to study sculpture at Emerson College in the UK. He worked with UK sculptor David Nash in 1994 before returning home to rural Northland. He now specialises in wood-carving and has a liking for Macrocarpa. 'Nurture' has its origins in 'Fantail'- a 4.5m-tall work, carved in 2002 from Eucalyptus.

Walter Yeoman has an exhibition in Auckland in June 2004 at Whitespace Contemporary Art Gallery, Auckland. More examples of his work can be found at his website.

A Garden Bench with a View

No show garden is complete without a seat and the Garden's dark underworld features a garden bench that offers views of the Totara Sculpture 'Nurture', and the gradual shift of colour palette from black, purple and Heuchera brown through to the lighter silver, white and gold plantings near the bandstand.

And so into the light garden...