The Healing Urban Garden

Healing Urban Garden, Hampton Court

I’ve been meaning to share this picture of the HUG (the Healing Urban Garden) designed by Rae Wilkinson for the Hampton Court Flower Show. The garden looks much more open viewed from the front, but from this angle, it’s easier to see the style of the planting, which is densely packed and surprisingly linear. That’s the part of the garden that fascinates me.

It’s an interesting, textural effect, reminding me of the rows commonly used in crop gardens, such as cutting gardens or kitchen gardens. I wonder if for some people, the sense of order and rhythm underpinning the design makes it more relaxing? If asked beforehand, I’d have said I preferred plants to mingle together naturally, but something in my pattern-loving nature responds to the technique, especially as it’s not rigidly applied.

The plants included lots of aromatic perennials and healing herbs, such as lavender, artemisia, thyme, stachys, rosemary, salvia, allium, eryngium and nepeta. The calming, subtle colour palette of silver, blue and green was lifted by purple, the bronzy foliage of head-high, multi-stemmed trees and lavender, the latter carried through to the walls and accessories. 

Finishing touches included the Urbis lily bowl and matching oversized planters. I’m sorry that my picture hasn’t done justice to the curvy, bleached oak bench created as a one off with furniture sculptor, Alun Heslop of  Chaircreative: now, that’s what I call bleached (out).

Take a look at Rae’s site if you’d like to check out the official plant list or visit the RHS website for more pictures of the HUG (and a better view of the bench!).

26 thoughts on “The Healing Urban Garden

  1. Heyjude says:

    I love the palette and the overall design is similar to a potager with herbs and flowers combined. I do wonder how this would work for real as the plants have little space into which to grow. I think after a year you’d be pulling some out or some would die for lack of room. I do rather fancy a lily pot, but in copper not that purple colour!

    • susurrus says:

      I had much the same thought about what happens next – I’m not sure it would be particularly accessible design if you need to move or split things. I am not a purist about show gardens. If they’re planted to last with youngish plants and room to grow, they would look sparse for the show, and it’s super expensive to work with well-established plants and not always a kindness to move them. Copper sounds lovely for the pot. I like weathered cor-ten steel accessories too.

  2. Oddment says:

    That linear quality is softened, I think, by the textures — kind of like rows of knitting that seem to blend into each other. The word “linear” seems to be popping up at me more and more, and it always gives me something more to reflect on. This is a garden I could spend a lot of time in, not just because of the herbs, which I love, but because it is very much like a hug — it is well named!

  3. thetinypotager says:

    Thanks for sharing your pics of the healing garden – full of inspiration for someone transforming their garden into a potager, like me 🙂 I’ve been aiming for a range medicinal plants as part of the plan – and it seems to be the case that a lot of them have either a silver or purple shade to them, just like in this garden.

    • susurrus says:

      I agree – they’re not low maintenance but they can enhance life – a bit like sourdough bread. I’ve got my very first starter bubbling away, so every comparison takes my thoughts towards sourdough at the moment!

  4. Safar Fiertze says:

    This is beautiful and those planters are a perfect colour match for the herbs – they provide balance. I’m rethinking linear now, it definitely has a calming effect.

    • susurrus says:

      I’ve thought a lot about this picture. I’ve had it on my desktop for a while, wondering if it was ‘good enough’ to post, but couldn’t resist finding out what other people thought of the planting style.

      I can’t remember seeing linear planting quite like this. it is calming as you say. Like HeyJude, I’ve been wondering how the garden would develop and my eye tends to trace out and wonder about the mingling which Frogend_Dweller mentions below.

    • susurrus says:

      There is plenty of mingling, but that’s plants for you. I wonder whether the idea was to have it as uniform as possible and the plants made it impossible or whether they set out to show a softer effect? If you see six of the same type for sale, there will always be a bushiest and a straggliest.

  5. lisaslarsen says:

    Very pretty; I like the purple walls and the hardscaping too. It would be even prettier with a waterfall, but I’m always a sucker for waterfalls.

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