Eutierria Mindfulness Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

Eutierria garden with textural plants and sweet chestnut decking

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.  

Eutierria Show Garden with rammed wall, pebble mulch, and green water wall

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. 

A rammed earth wall made from layers of earth, sand and gravel

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.

Fire pit, boulder, hosta and sweet chestnut decking

The garden’s abundance of lines made it a natural choice for Becky’s Lines&Squares which runs throughout October.

Links and more information

Follow Creative Roots via Instagram or on Neil Sutcliffe’s Twitter account.

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

21 thoughts on “Eutierria Mindfulness Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

    • susurrus says:

      I enjoyed learning about rammed earth too.

      I wished at first that the word ‘eutierria’ sounded less academic but it’s easier to internalise than I’d expected. Some of the other invented words on Glen’s site were less intuitive for me.

  1. Oddment says:

    I couldn’t help laughing at the contrast in our associations with the rammed earth wall: your childhood on the crumbling river banks and my childhood with the Empress of Cakes, my Grandma Mauck. When I looked at that wall, I saw layers of cake. (Granted, they didn’t last long either.) But when I saw that top photo, I saw a place where I wanted to spend a long time, just sitting. Mindfulness could be had there, I think. It’s beautiful.

    • susurrus says:

      That’s the kind of childhood memory everyone would like – an Empress of Cakes as Grandma. Mama was a dab hand at potato pies, to be consumed on a whirligig plate after a brief trip round the garden to cool it, so I have no grounds for complaint.

      • Oddment says:

        Please: “dab hand”? – “potato pie”? -whirligig plate”? I am having a grand time imagining what all these things are, but I should have your inside scoop.

        • susurrus says:

          Dab hand = excels at / talent for.
          Whirligig plate was an ought-to-have-been-rejected dinner plate with a rounded rather than a flat bottom that my sister and I vied to have so we could spin our food round before eating it.
          Potato pie – Mama’s had a wonderful crust, big chunks of potato, a few onions, a little meat and a thin gravy we were sometimes given in a cup as ‘beef tea’ to strengthen us if she thought we needed ‘building up’.

          • Oddment says:

            Thank you! I will try hard to remember “dab hand” so I can use it. What a great phrase! I am sure I’d have vied with you and your sister both for a turn (so to speak) with that plate. The potato pie sounds like true winter eating — was the crust a pastry crust?

  2. Vicki says:

    That garden is an absolute delight with its varying textures, colours and materials. While I love the layers in the wall with all its varying colours and textures, I say give me a bit of green (and white?) anytime. 🙂

  3. Heyjude says:

    I love the different textures here and the living wall. But these gardens only exist for a brief (show) time, if we were to really plant like this the garden would be overgrown in no time.

    • susurrus says:

      Your gardening eye naturally looks to next year and the year after, but fully-established plants would be much more costly to work with. It’s a bit like preparing a vase of flowers or bouquet for an event or wedding – you only need them to be beautiful for a short time, but you do need to make impact.

  4. nigel64 says:

    Oh, yes, I really love the earthen layered wall drawn from a cliff. Nice touch with deck and boulder, I’ve done that a few times too and it’s very pleasing.

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