The Salvation Army Garden

The Salvation Army's Open Garden 'From Darkness to Light' features bold contrasting colours and textures, unusual plants, a bandstand, harp and a Darkness Rose bred for the occasion.

The Salvation Army Garden was sandwiched in between Terence Conran's Garden Kitchen and Bunny Guinness' Oxbridge Boatrace Garden. The news focussing on the multi-coloured baubals down the way, what a wonderful surprise to find this, my favourite of the 2004 Chelsea Gardens.

 The space in this garden design is deceptive.
A View through the garden to the bandstand
 It was such a treat to see the abundance of roses in this Show Garden
A Rose Garden

The Design Plan and Plants

The RHS have a garden design plan and the Salvation Army have provided a comprehensive plant list.

This garden is the first Chelsea Show Garden with a strong Christian theme. The garden uses the transition from dark to light to represent humanity's 'potential to find light even in the darkest of times.'

A Return to Roses

In a year dominated by foliage and lush greens, the Salvation Army is the only show garden to feature large plantings of roses. The white climber Bobby James, pure white blooms of Princess of Wales Rose, and the new amber / apricot Rosa Salvation have all been timed to perfection, in full bloom.

Rosa Salvation is a new Harkness Rose bred specially for Chelsea 2004 but if you liked it as much as I did you'll have to attend the Salvation Army Garden Sale in June - it won't be available from the breeder until November 2004.

Paving the Way

The Dark and Light Contrasts are not confined to plants alone. The steps, walls, paving and pots all play there part. All of the gardens features are stunning, from the soft white pots to the paving stones leading to the bandstand. The brick-work corner flax planting where the light garden begins is an example of the design team's attention to detail.

 An example of the thorough attention to detail in the Salvation Army garden.
Brick Junctions of light and Dark

Garden Height & Highlights

I thought - mistakenly - that the Salvation Army were given a larger plot than the other Show Gardens. The designer, Julian Dowle, has used all the available space and created a whole lot more through his imaginative use of height, and the crowning effect of the bandstand.

The musician plucking away on the harp seems so far away when you are standing at the bottom of the garden, peering up and over the blacks, purples and reds.

 The deep red of these flaxes add real depth to the dark end of the garden.
New Zealand Flaxes Feature

A World Class Team

Like the charitable activities of the Salvation Army, 'From Darkness into Light' is a world effort. Julian has long associations with garden designers from far­flung places. His 2004 Chelsea team includes Koji Nimoniya, the Chief Director of Japan's World Garden Competition, and New Zealand gardening legend Bev McConnell. Julian, Bev and Koji were all judges at the 2003 Ellerslie Flower Show.

To follow the work that went into the Chelsea show garden by these designers and their team, the Salvation Army have chronicled the construction process thoroughly.

A Garden Designer's Swansong

This garden is unlike most of Julian Dowle's previous Chelsea entries. It doesn't have an historical English basis like his gold medal-winners Old Mill, Yorkshire Opportunity, Victorian and 1930's Gardens. It will be the last garden Julian enters at Chelsea - after 25 years and nine gold medals, he is calling it a day.

From Darkess into Light is Julian's swansong Show Garden. It is poignant that Julian's last Chelsea design should reflect his Christian beliefs rather than a particular gardening style or theme. Is this the garden Julian wanted to show before retirement?

A Garden to Rave About

This article started as a one-page intention, but I can't stop finding things to rave about in the garden. Read on...