Chelsea Flower Show garden is food for thought

May 18, 2023

An award-winning garden designer from West Cowick has designed a first-of-its-kind garden which will appear at Chelsea Flower Show later next week.

Mark Gregory is currently working around the clock to construct the garden which hopes to transport visitors into the intimate walled garden of a country hotel. For the very first time at Chelsea Flower Show, the garden will feature a working kitchen, serving a seasonal menu including items foraged from within the garden itself.

Mark has joined forces with garden sponsor, Savills as well as Michelin-green-starred chef, Sam Buckley, to make the project, which he describes as his “most ambitious design yet”, come to life. The ‘plot to plate’ garden will showcase ‘edimental’ planting, combining both edible and ornamental plants, and aims to create a tranquil retreat where visitors can take time to reconnect with nature and enjoy the formal planting, while anticipating the tasting experience to come.

Speaking about his design, Mark said: “This is definitely my most ambitious design yet, 10 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to deliver this. It is the biggest and most complex garden I’ve ever created and the construction is really complicated. “It will be a fiesta of horticulture. We’ve got edible and ornamental planting, from fruit trees to samphire in pots and lots of unusual garnishes. “Sustainability is also at the heart of the garden, so we are using all parts of the stone within our construction.”

Throughout the flower show Michelin-green-starred chef Sam will be bringing his culinary philosophy to the garden. Cooking in its outdoor working kitchen, Sam will work with sustainable suppliers and fresh British produce, fruit and vegetables to create multi-course menus that respond to what’s available in May, with flavours from the garden. The chef will be foraging from the garden, including cropping from the fruit and veg plots, while waste reduction will be at the core of his creative process, with offcuts being reimagined for dishes the following day. Following the show, in keeping with its sustainability commitment, Savills will work with the national charity Shaw Trust to relocate the garden in Nottinghamshire. Additionally, Savills will work with existing charity partner Rethink Food, an organisation focused on educating school children on food security, to share learnings from the garden. Richard Rees, managing director at Savills, said: “We are excited to be working with Mark and Sam to deliver Chelsea Flower Show’s first ever working kitchen experience, in a garden that’s both sanctuary and source of the best in flavours and nutrition.  “With its emphasis on using reclaimed and environmentally sensitive landscaping materials sourced as locally as possible, and showcasing the best in seasonal planting, this project has natural synergy with our commitment to promoting sustainable development through our work with clients, suppliers and local communities.” Mark and the team at his company, Landform Consultants Ltd are currently working around the clock to construct the garden ahead of the shows opening on Monday, May 22.

This year will be Mark's 34th consecutive year at Chelsea Flower Show and will be his 107th show garden. Speaking about what he is looking forward to most, Mark said: “Well firstly I’m looking forward to finishing it! But what I always look forward to is standing in the crowd and listening to the public’s reaction and seeing them smile. “For me, the show gardens are theatres with plants. I want to transport the visitors to an unbelievable and magical place, that they’ll fall in love with and want to come back to again and again.”

ABOVE: Award-winning garden designer Mark Gregory has begun work on his latest garden for Chelsea Flower Show. (04-05-127 SU)

MAIN PHOTO: The ‘plot to plate’ garden will be the first of its kind, featuring a working kitchen operated by a Michelin-green-starred chef, Sam Buckley. (04-05-128 SU)

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