A Short Time to Make a Long Border

On Tuesday 14 May I’m giving a talk as part of Headingley Festival of Ideas. I’ll be remembering the process of making ‘Turning Point’, my RHS Chatsworth 2018 Long Border, and also exploring how borders of various sorts impact on the world of plants and garden design. Come along for ideas, questions and discussion! Details here

Garden Walk: York Gate Garden

I’ll be leading the first Garden Walk workshop for The Bowery, Leeds, on Sunday 7 April. The workshop will be held at York Gate Garden, Adel.  It’s been organised in collaboration with York Gate and Perennial, the Gardeners’ Royal Benevolent Society. Come and spend the afternoon in this beautiful garden as it shifts into its springtime greenery and see how it’s the perfect textbook for thinking about garden design principles.

Booking for the workshop is open here.

‘Design Your Own Garden 2: Plants and Planting Design’ Evening Class

A new follow-on course to my ‘Design Your Own Garden 1: Design Principles and Layout’ will be running at The Bowery, Headingley, Leeds, from May this year. It will build on Part 1’s grounding in shaping a space and explore how to use plants as a design component in your garden, how to choose the right plants for your soil, situation and desired atmosphere. There’ll be plenty more hands-on design work and the chance to think in detail about this crucial element of making a garden.

Booking for the course is open here.

 

Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovating Show

Stand A432 at Harrogate Homebuilding & Renovating Show is where you’ll find me from Friday 2 November to Sunday 4 November.  The Show is at the Harrogate Convention Centre and you can get free tickets here.

I’m looking forward to chatting to people about creating gorgeous outdoor spaces and to giving a Masterclass presentation on ‘Where to start when designing your garden’ on Saturday 3 November at 15.00.

‘Design Your Own Garden’ Evening Class

From late January 2019 I’ll be teaching a 6-week evening class at The Bowery, Headingley, Leeds.  The class is ‘Design Your Own Garden’ and it’ll cover the essential ideas and processes designing an outdoor space which will work well and be beautiful.  There’ll be lots of hands-on design work and the chance to experiment and to think about how to create an atmosphere and how to choose the right plants for the space.

Booking for the course has just opened here.

 

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018 Gold Medal Press Release

 

Press Release 6 June 2018 – for immediate use

Gold for ‘Turning Point’

 ‘Turning Point’, Yorkshire garden designer Mary Swan’s first garden in an RHS Show, has won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.  Mary says “We got the result this morning so I’m still a bit giddy and very happy.  This is a huge credit to everyone who’s worked so hard to make the garden every bit as gorgeous as it was in my imagination”.

‘Turning Point’ captures the transition from late spring freshness to midsummer plenty.  It is a traditional Long Border moved into the 21stcentury with naturalistic planting design, designed for a windy site with plants in motion, arching into rippling waves.  A striking, sculptural, curving screen divides the border, snakes through the planting and then circles in on itself.  The screen divides the border into sunny and shady sides.

 

‘Turning Point’ is full of ideas for creating an atmosphere in gardens large and small. 

 

Notes for editors

Mary Swan is available for interview: contact details below.

 Biography

Mary retrained in horticulture and garden design after a career of more than 20 years in academia. She worked at the University of Leeds as a Senior Lecturer in Medieval Studies, specialising in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.  Her former career has given her a deep appreciation of the ways in which landscapes change over time and how every place has layers of meaning.  Since childhood Mary has been a slightly obsessive domestic gardener; her career change means that she now spends most of her time giving  other people lovely gardens and still has to squeeze in time to work on her own!

As well as running her garden design business Mary Swan writes about gardens and garden design and gives talks to local garden groups around the country.  She is also a part-time Lecturer in Garden Design and Horticulture at the Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College, Skipton. 

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is the RHS’s newest flower show, now in its second year.  In 2017 around 95,000 visitors attended the show and 90% were from the North or Midlands. 

The 2018 RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is open to the public from 6 June to 10 June. 

Horticultural notes

The main plant supplier for ‘Turning Point’ is the internationally renowned Dove Cottage Nursery, Shibden, Halifax.  Mary’s planting design is in two parts: on the south-facing side grasses catch the wind and dance amongst the foliage, stems and buds of herbaceous plants. Rounded forms of shrubs give density as a foil to the loose herbaceous planting. The whole border is anchored by a feature shrub at its western end, tipping the screen down to its lowest point and extending its canopy over the shade-loving plants on the north-facing side. Here shrubs and grasses balance those on the south-facing side and interweave with loose, subtle, textural herbaceous planting. 

 

Contact details

Media contact

Mary Swan

Mary Swan Gardens

mary@maryswangardens.com

07528 756664

 

Mary Swan Gardens

www.maryswangardens.com

www.instagram.com/maryswangardens

www.twitter.com/maryswangardens

mary@maryswangardens.com

07528 756664

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chatsworth-flower-show

Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College

www.facebook.com/gardendesignnorth/

www.craven-college.ac.uk

Wm. Spence – metal screen fabricator, Bradford

www.wmspence.co.uk

Dove Cottage Nursery – main plant supplier, Shibden, Halifax

www.dovecottagenursery.co.uk

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show Gold!

After a slightly tense night we arrived at the showground this morning to find a Gold Medal waiting for us on my garden ‘Turning Point’.  A fantastic surprise and we’re still a bit giddy with excitement.

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show ‘Turning Point’ plant list

Now that the garden is finished I can share my plant list:

Sunny side
Achillea ‘W.B. Childs’
Cenolophium denudatum
Cirsium rivulare ‘Trevor’s Felley Find’
Deschampsia ‘Pixie Fountain’
Dianthus carthusianorum
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’
Geranium  ‘Tiny Monster’
Geum coccineum ‘Koi’
Hemerocallis dumortieri
Osmanthus xburkwoodii
Salvia ‘Miss Elly’
Stipa gigantea ‘Gold Fontaene’
Thalictrum‘Elin’
 
Feature shrub
Amelanchier lamarckii
 
Shady side
Alchemilla mollis
Asplenium scolopendrium
Cenolophium denudatum
Geranium nodosum ‘Silverwood’
Gillenia trifoliata
Luzula nivea
Melica uniflora f. ‘Albida’       
Polystichum makinoi
Polystichum munitum
Ranunculus aconitifolius ‘Flore Pleno’
Taxus baccata
Tiarella cordifolia
Viola cornutaAlba Group

My main plant supplier was the excellent Dove Cottage Nursery.  Lovely additional plants came from Summerdale Garden Plants, Stillingfleet Lodge Nurseries, Wykeham Mature Plants, Millthorpe Nursery, Palmstead Nurseries  and my friend Sarah who generously allowed us to weed her veg bed which was full of self-seeded Alchemilla.

Some photos of the ‘Turning Point’ planting are on instagram and twitter  and more will be added in the coming days.

 

‘Turning Point’: making the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show garden

‘Turning Point’ is made.  We finished the planting and tidying up this afternoon, so tomorrow morning will be doing some last-minute checking and deadheading before Press Day begins.  The build has gone amazingly smoothly, thanks to sterling support and expert help from John, Sue, Hazel, Richard, Tracy and Suzi.  Here they are in all their high-vis glamour:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work of making the garden has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.  In the sublime category has been spending four days working on a site folded between the gilded imposingness of Chatsworth House to one side and rolling, green, tree-studded designed landscape to the other side.  Ridiculous episodes include washing a shrub with a baby toothbrush and sitting on the ground for half a day cleaning up trays of moss.  Those are definitely to be filed under the heading Things You Only Ever Do On A Show Garden Build.

I’ll write in more detail about ‘Turning Point’ later on.  I’ve already posted some photos of the garden on instagram and twitter (@maryswangardens) and will add more during the Show days.

 

 

 

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018 Press Release

 

 

 

Press Release 26 May 2018 – for immediate use

Yorkshire garden designer’s debut at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

Preparations are in full swing for the first RHS Show garden to be designed by Mary Swan.  ‘Turning Point’ is Mary’s garden in the Long Borders category of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.  It captures the transition from late spring to early summer.

At home Mary has made her own 100-foot-long Long Border which is like a slice of a grand country house garden transported to suburban Leeds.  Mary says “It’s my test bed for planting design, where I experiment to see which plants work together visually and practically so I can give my clients the best planting for their gardens.  From time to time I completely replant my Long Border as my design style evolves. That’s a huge amount of work but I see it as an occupational hazard!”.

As well as running her garden design business Mary writes about gardens and garden design and gives talks to local garden groups around the country.  She is also a part-time tutor in Garden Design and Horticulture at the Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College, Skipton. 

During her training at Craven College Mary designed and built four Harrogate Flower Show gardens with her classmates.  She’s also helped plant two show gardens at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, but as she says, “This is the first time the buck absolutely stops with me”. 

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is the RHS’s newest flower show, now in its second year.  In 2017 around 95,000 visitors attended the show and 90% were from the North or Midlands.  The theme of this year’s RHS Chatsworth Long Borders is Movement. ‘Turning Point’ captures the transition from late spring freshness to midsummer plenty.  It is a traditional Long Border moved into the 21stcentury with naturalistic planting design, designed for a windy site with plants in motion, arching into rippling waves.  A striking, sculptural, curving screen divides the border, snakes through the planting and then circles in on itself. 

‘Turning Point’ is full of ideas for creating an atmosphere in sun and shade in gardens large and small.

 

Notes for editors

Mary Swan is available for interview: contact details below.

Biography

Mary retrained in horticulture and garden design after a career of more than 20 years in academia. She was a Senior Lecturer in Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds, specialising in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Her former career has given her a deep appreciation of the ways in which landscapes change over time and how every place has layers of meaning.  Since childhood Mary has been a slightly obsessive domestic gardener; her career change means that she now spends most of her time giving  other people lovely gardens and still has to squeeze in time to work on her own!

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

Mary will begin making her Show Garden on 1 June and the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is open to the public from 6 June to 10 June.  Press and Preview Day is 5 June. 

Horticultural notes

The main plant supplier for ‘Turning Point’ is the internationally renowned Dove Cottage Nursery, Shibden, Halifax.  Mary’s planting design is in two parts: on the south-facing side grasses catch the wind and dance amongst the foliage, stems and buds of herbaceous plants. Rounded forms of shrubs give density as a foil to the loose herbaceous planting. The whole border is anchored by a feature shrub at its western end, tipping the screen down to its lowest point and extending its canopy over the shade-loving plants on the north-facing side. Here shrubs and grasses balance those on the south-facing side and interweave with loose, subtle, textural herbaceous planting. 

 

Contact details

 Media contact

Mary Swan

Mary Swan Gardens

mary@maryswangardens.com

07528 756664

 

Mary Swan Gardens

www.maryswangardens.com

www.instagram.com/maryswangardens

www.twitter.com/maryswangardens

mary@maryswangardens.com

07528 756664

 

RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chatsworth-flower-show

 

Northern School of Garden Design, Craven College

www.facebook.com/gardendesignnorth/

www.craven-college.ac.uk

 

Wm. Spence – metal screen fabricator, Bradford

www.wmspence.co.uk

 

Dove Cottage Nursery – main plant supplier, Shibden, Halifax

www.dovecottagenursery.co.uk

RHS Chatsworth: making the screen

Mike Bowen, General Manager of Wm. Spence, is a vital part of my Chatsworth show garden preparation.  He’s been liaising with me about the curving, sculptural metal screen which is a key element of my Long Border design.

 

This morning I went for a meeting with Mike and Ben Howarth of Innoscape and John Anderson who will be installing the screen with me on the show ground.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d expected to be able to discuss details and check on progress so I was delighted to find that we could actually watch the screen panels being made by Wm. Spence’s super high-tech laser cutter.  

 

 

 

 

It was amazing to watch the laser cutter’s balletic tracing of shapes I’d drawn only a few weeks ago and to see the screen taking form in front of me.  Below is a video of the laser cutter at work – I could have watched it all day!

 

RHS Chatsworth Show Garden

In less than three weeks I start building a show garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show.  My garden is in the Long Border category and is called ‘Turning Point’.   It’s designed to embody the shift from late spring to early summer and the ways in which gardens are always in motion.  Here’s a sneak preview of the feel of the planting:

 

 

And here I am deep in consultation with Kim Rogers of Dove Cottage Nursery who are very kindly growing most of my plants.  Kim’s excellent eye and encyclopaedic knowledge of good herbaceous perennials have been invaluable as I’ve refined my plant list.

 

As well as plant wrangling I’ve been liaising with my main sponsor: Wm. Spence, a Bradford-based steel fabricator.  They’re making the sculptural screen I’ve designed to curve through my show garden planting.

The coming weeks will be full of last-minute planning and panicking.  I’m keen to get to Chatsworth and start transferring the show garden from my mind to that gorgeous site.

 

A new Marrakech garden

On my most recent trip to Morocco I saw lots of amazing gardens, including many by Éric Ossart and Arnaud Maurières, and extraordinary land shaping and cultivation in high-altitude arid conditions.  Lots of material there for future writing, and one article from that trip has already been published.  It’s about Tom Stuart-Smith’s Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech.  Click on the image  below for the full text and photos.