The Eutierria Show Garden (pronounced you tee air ia), designed by Neil Sutcliffe and built by Creative Roots, drew inspiration from the cliffs of the River Trent. It was part of the mindfulness category of mood-enhancing spaces at RHS Chatsworth that demonstrate how access to nature and our wellbeing are interlinked.
Shade tolerant plants supplied by Miles Nurseries channelled the margins of woodland, but with gardenesque touches. White anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, bronze ajuga, claret astrantia, blue geranium and a froth of tiny, chartreuse yellow alchemilla mollis flowers provided pops of colour against a green, textural planting of fern, moss, hosta, tiarella and brunnera. Trees and shrubs added architecture.
Earth, fire, water and wind were incorporated, which would please my Landscape Architect friend, Rick Griffin, who is adamant that every garden design should include all four elements, either metaphorically or physically. Boards cut from sweet chestnut, still with the bark in places, made for a more quirky take on decking, while the backdrop (part green wall, part slate, part water wall) was imposing, but had a relaxing quality. Two 1.5 tonne boulders, river-washed stones and Agean blue cobbles helped carry the river theme.
But it was the stratified rammed earth wall that fascinated me with its blend of science, engineering, art and naturalistic intelligence: one of many new-to-me touches I see at any RHS flower show.
I’d like to claim I embrace the new, but that wouldn’t be true. Most of us imaginatively test the new, giving the idea a mental work-out (in the case of gardening, that’s by throwing weather, time and Nature into the mix). I remember the results of my test at the time: visually fascinating, but, like Troy, destined to fall.
If, like me, you spent a slice of your childhood scrambling along crumbly river banks, your imagination is primed for a tumble: you’ll most likely look at this with me and feel through instinct that it will not last for long. We’d be wrong. A little research confirms that the delicate, natural, crumbly look of a rammed earth wall belies its strength and durability.
When done correctly, a rammed wall is long lasting, taking on some of the characteristics of stone. Layers of damp earth are compressed between wooden or metal framework that will be removed once the wall has dried out to reveal contrasting layers and textures. Stone and gravel details may be included, and even leaves. The technique can be very eco-friendly, especially if materials can be quarried locally.
Every wall is unique. Six tons of earth and sand were incorporated in the Eutierria garden’s rammed wall with coloured oxides and stone chips to accentuate the contrasts between the layers.
The garden’s abundance of lines made it a natural choice for Becky’s Lines&Squares which runs throughout October.
Links and more information
Eutierria is one of several words coined by Glen A. Albrecht, former Professor of Sustainability, to help us navigate our relationship with nature in a changing environment.
when the human-nature relationship is spontaneous and mutually enriching (symbiotic) we experience a state of ‘eutierria’… peace and connectedness.
Glen A. Albrecht