In the Sanctuary space of the Chelsea Flower Show, you will find The Connected, by EXANTE garden. It was designed by Finnish landscaper and researcher Taina Suonio and made of entirely green and recycled materials, encouraging biodiversity and improving both mental and physical health.
The garden’s centrepiece is a three-metre Royal Oak Tree stump – an ‘office’ in nature. EXANTE purposefully chose the oak as a British symbol and a nod to Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. It also contributes to the surrounding biosphere in many ways – as a home, food source and part of the water cycle. Up to 100 different species can live in or on one oak tree, or feed on its various parts. As a result, conservation of oak forests is vital to the wellbeing of the earth, meaning we’re not only supporting people’s wellbeing, but also that of the planet.
“Like flowers and plants which flourish and grow, we wanted to create a unique space in which nature and people can connect. EXANTE provides a platform that connects people and financial markets by offering innovative products and fully customisable services to help grow wealth. We felt that the seasonal nature of plants and wildlife was an excellent representation of the cyclical nature of financial markets,” said Alexey Kirienko, CEO of EXANTE.
“At EXANTE we pride ourselves on our forward-thinking, our ability to connect different people and markets globally, and our high level of customer service ‒ all values that we believe are also true for Chelsea. This is why we’re delighted to be sponsoring our first ever garden at Chelsea, but hopefully not our last. We hope that our garden will bring true sanctuary to people’s busy lives. Our designer has created a spectacular, whimsical and captivating space that will draw your senses and open your imagination,” he added.
Designed with a minimal interior, the main oak structure provides a Scandinavian feel serving as an office, studio or relaxation space. Included in the structure is a water feature – a tank filled with rainwater harvested from the roof, which gives the impression of a window. As green roofs are one of Taina’s specialties, the planting around the ceiling window echoes the forest plants around it, making it look as if the whole roof is planted.
About Taina Suonio
Taina is a renowned Finnish landscape designer and horticulturalist. She holds an M.Sc in Environmental Biology from the University of Helsinki, where she is also a member of a research group which works on vegetated roofs.
This is the third time that Taina will showcase her work at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Her award-winning 2019 design ‘The Roots in Finland Kyro Garden’ is now housed at the embassy of Finland in London. Her ‘Finnish Soul Garden’ from last year’s show was almost entirely relocated to a private garden in London, with its stunning black granite boulders ‘Mother Finland’ and ‘Little Brother’ currently installed in RHS Wisley.
Her style of garden design is foremost a celebration of the natural, ecological, biodiversity-supporting beauty of the native wild, without forgetting a touch of the more dashing elements of flowering glory in carefully selected areas of her designs.
Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt
The garden is being built by Oxfordshired-based firm Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt, who are regulars at Chelsea and have worked with Taina on previous projects.
Liz Nicholson, Managing Director, comments: “The Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt team are absolutely thrilled to be working with Tania on such a nature-inspired garden. The design is visionary and representative of more natural spaces that we should value in this time of climate change.”
Richard Holt, Senior Landscape Contracts Manager, comments: “This garden is especially exciting for me as it reflects the sustainability and ‘gentle’ touch philosophy we hold dear at Nicholsons Lockhart Garratt. To be designed by such a well-respected, environmentally credible designer is a real testament to our company culture and values. The fact that the garden will live on at UCLH cancer ward is just fantastic and surmises the whole ethos of this project.”
The garden features native plants from Europe and Finland in particular, including beech, wild crab apple, field maple and silver birch (the Finnish national tree), all underplanted with brambles, dog rose, elder and guelder rose. All are common plants that can be easily grown. “We need to think more carefully about what we plant, because of climate change and pests and diseases, and need to support natural biodiversity. We need to learn to appreciate the smaller details”, says Taina. Cow parsley, Solomon’s seal, foxgloves, ferns, erythroniums and lily of the valley (Finland’s national flower), emulate a woodland walk, with duckboards leading to the oak building, echoing those that traditionally lead up to Finnish summer cottages.
Relocation to UCLH
After the show, the garden will be donated to University College London Hospitals (UCLH).
The hospital trust is planning to install the garden in its newest building on Grafton Way, which houses one of the largest centres for the treatment of blood disorders in Europe and the national proton beam therapy service.
EXANTE’s team voted to donate the garden to UCLH after two members of staff received life-saving care in cancer and neurosurgery at UCLH.
You can visit the garden from May 24th to May 28th, 2022. Get your tickets at rhs.org.uk/chelsea.
The press preview is on May 23rd. Get press accreditation at https://www.rhs.org.uk/press/shows/accreditation.
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