RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017: Artisan Garden

I was delighted to be approached this year by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to design a garden for the Chelsea Flower Show 2017.

The Commission, who is celebrating its centenary this year, works to ensure that the 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten, and they do this by caring for cemeteries and memorials at and incredible 23,000 locations, in 154 countries. The commission’s purpose is to encourage contemplation, remembrance and respect for all that was sacrificed.

As I researched and created this design my aim was to encapsulate those values within the garden, creating an intimate and reflective space, which has echoes of the great architecture and craftsmanship found in the CWGC cemeteries and memorials worldwide.

We are releasing stories throughout this week to take you on a journey through the design and construction process for the CWGC Centenary Garden.


In 2017 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) celebrates 100 years since its foundation by Royal Charter. A visit to a CWGC cemetery often has a strong impact, leaving a lasting impression. It is not only the awareness of the enormous sacrifice of many during the conflicts, but also an overwhelming inner reflection and appreciation for the lives we lead as a free country and as a generation not at war.

The CWGC Centenary Garden is accessed through an imposing circular arch, which is reflective of the circular emblems that mark many of the grave stones. Portland stone steps then lead to a raised platform which provides a view over the garden.

As you ascend to the platform a ring of multi-stemmed trees enclose you in a canopy of foliage, giving a space for quiet contemplation, away from the outside world.

Below, globe-headed flowers nestled in the floral landscape of silver, mauve and blue hues remind us of the fallen soldiers, and reflective sculptures set in the walls allow the visitor to become aware of themselves within the space.

Overhead Plan

Front Elevation Plan

This front elevation view of the garden can give you a taste of what show visitors will see from the pathway looking in.

The use of clear, multi-stemmed trees mean that the garden can be easily seen from the front (through the stems). However, when you are on the raised platform, their upper canopy gives you a feeling of being privately enclosed in the garden.

There are also many other large specimen plants strategically placed, so that from the viewing platform the garden feels secluded.

On the ground, large plants such as phormiums, fatsia, pittosporum, etc. aim to give texture and structure, while globe-headed flowers such as alliums, armeria and others spread throughout the garden, representing the fallen soldiers themselves. The garden will enjoy hues of silver, blue, mauve, purple, pink and white.


“In 2017 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will celebrate one hundred years of great gardening. With a global gardening workforce of more than 850 men and women and a maintenance commitment of more than 710 hectares, we’re proud to be one of the world’s largest horticultural organisations.

Our horticulture has always been an essential part of our commemoration of the war dead – ensuring the cemeteries and memorials are places of beauty and quiet remembrance for the hundreds of thousands who visit them each year.

We’re delighted to have the chance to work with David Domoney and showcase our work at Chelsea.”

David Richardson – CWGC Director of Horticulture 

Coming Soon

Planting Plan

I will be adding a Planting Plan to this page soon so that you can see some of the plants that will be used, and get an idea of the textures and tones I will be creating within the garden.

Artisan Craftmanship

The garden will be featured in the Artisan Garden category at Chelsea, and we will be featuring some incredible craftsmanship from around the world. We will have some details and examples for you soon.

It has been a delight to work with the team at CWGC to turn my design into a reality, and I cannot wait to see and share the finished product next May.

I’m also thrilled to be working once again with James Steele Sargent, owner of Arun Landscapes and veteran show garden contractor with many awards to his name, who will be doing the hard work of turning my thoughts and plans into what you see above.

Keep checking this page, as we will be adding more details over the coming weeks!