Golden Girl!

27th April 2014

The Harrogate Spring Water 'Secret Garden'. More images here.

After ten days of hard building, planting and a fair few dark moments of the soul... the Harrogate Spring Water 'Secret Garden' finally came to life and she won us a gold medal at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.

All the team at the Northern School of Garden Design and I are delighted not just by the garden and the gold medal, but also by the whole learning journey of building a first professional show garden. A rather technical design, involving hard landscaping, water, intricate walling and the logistics of bringing some rather valuable sculptures from across the country; this was a baptism of fire for us all.

By the final day of the build, just as one can feel at the end of a house renovation, it was hard to see the garden clearly. Then the rain came and the plants bedded into their temporary home. And on the opening day of the show, bathed in sunshine, it was all suddenly worth it. The gold medal was nice but in a way it didn't really matter.

Months of planning and imagining were suddenly real, and the result exceeded our expectations. None of us had guessed how lovely the David Harber 'Quill' sculpture would look in the secret corner of the garden, its golden centre gleaming all the way down the rill, or imagined how the afternoon shadows would give energy to rusted steel blades.

This was a garden which had its origins in the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, 'The Secret Garden', a story set in Yorkshire. And at its heart was the idea of creating a hidden space, just like the namesake garden into which the 'disagreable' Mary Lennox stumbled and which changed her life.

In a few days our garden will be dismantled. Such is the sadness of show gardens. But what a treat to have seen it made real, and a final thanks to all of the people and sponsors (in particular Harrogate Spring Water) who gave their time and money to this project.

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done - then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” [Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, 1910].

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