The use of different levels is always an effective way for small show gardens to make the space feel bigger and to create views that are not possible on the level: Joe has put at the heart of the garden a sunken seating area that is backed by a ‘living’ wall and sheltered by the main focal point, an organic mushroom-shaped ‘pavilion’. Down here there is a sense of enclosure, calm and quiet amongst the trees. The soil dug out from the centre has been used to fill a higher area of woodland, and create a riverbank that dances with meadow style planting.

I was fortunate to be on the planting team and help put together Joe’s vision for naturalistic plantings that emulate different plant communities. Overshadowing the back of the garden, an impressive Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) above a tapestry of shady green foliage represents the woodland. The floor is punctuated with spiky ferns Dryopteris and Blechnum, and at the edges the dramatic flower spikes of Digitalis purpurea and Acanthus mollis almost reach the tree’s branch tips. Smaller shrubby species are planted around the tree’s trunk, and even in this small space the perspective gives the appearance of a clearing within the woodland. A soft coral- coloured Geum livens the edge of the woodland where it meets wild strawberry and abundant plantings of a moss-like perennial, Selaginella kraussiana.

The wildflower meadow is naturalistically planted with grasses, species gladioli, Echium, Ornithogalum, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ and Silene dioica all in cooler colours, punctuated with a gorgeous deep purple-black Papaver somniferum.

But it is the transitions between these areas where Joe’s skill is evident - it takes a clever plantsman to move from woodland to meadow without the shift being contrived. Joe uses ‘woodland edge’ plants Digitalis, Aquilegia, Gillenia and Carex, adding Anthriscus, Daucus carota, Geranium, Nectaroscordum, as he moves into the light, finishing with Echium vulgare, Briza media, Carex and Silene dioica reflecting the meadow adjacent. The inclusion of plenty of grasses and avoidance of planting single species in large groups - everything appears to be randomly sown - makes the whole seem completely natural.

The timber pavilion representing complex mycelium networks is anchored to the sunken chestnut deck. Built off site, the mushroom-like structure is engineered in chestnut, cedar and plywood and uses a series of hexagons fitted together with the occasional shape punched through to reveal snapshots of sky. While plywood sheet is not rainproof and is not recommended for use outside, it is used here as a roofing product to contrast with the warmth of the oiled cedar hexagons.

The Meta garden will be removed after the show and relocated at the Conkers Discovery Centre in the National Forest. John Everitt, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, commented: “This is a forest of people as much as the trees. It is the people that have come together over the past 30 years to create the Forest, like nature’s mycelium network that underpins our biodiversity. We will be excited to see Joe Perkins’s Meta garden relocated here. It will provide a lasting inspiration for our communities and visitors, and a showcase for how we can all live more sustainably.”

The Garden was awarded an RHS Gold Medal.

Hayfever, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen and can be triggered at different times of year depending on the life cycle of certain plants that release pollen in to the air.

The UK has the largest number of hayfever sufferers in Europe alongside Sweden and the number has been increasing over the past few years, with adults in mid life having the most bouts. While there is no clear answer to this increase, many scientists argue that spending time indoors as children could be to blame. Immune systems are no longer developing properly as a result of less exposure to endotoxins from a young age.

It is known that plants that cause hayfever are generally wind pollinated, releasing billions of lightweight pollen spores in to the air. Many plants have evolved to send their pollen (a powder like substance produce by the male parts of a plant) to travel far and wide. The most common culprits for causing suffering are

Tree Pollen - spring (Alder, Hazel, Yew, Elm, Willow, Poplar, Ash and Birch)
Grass pollen - late spring and summer (many species, causing the most allergic reactions)
Ragweed pollen - autumn (a group of annual weeds belonging to the daisy family)

Because the release of pollen is closely related to seasons which are influenced by weather patterns, the Met Office produce a pollen forecast each day. According to them, the most severe pollen season in a decade was 2018, when a cold and wet start to the year delayed the onset of spring. This led to a sudden explosion of growth and blossom all at once, where there would normally be a gradual blooming. The sunniest May on record and consistently warm temperatures then helped release huge amounts of grass pollen into the air. For more information, visit

Where you live makes a difference too. In the north of the UK hayfever season is shorter, where there is generally less pollen. Urban areas have lower counts than the countryside and the coast has ‘cleaner’ air than inland.

How to reduce hayfever symptoms

Combined with warm, natural woods such as sustainable teak or acacia, weaves create a comfortable and inviting place to sit and relax, turning the outdoors in to a cool lounge area. The Ritz Teak Teak Dining Set from combines style and comfort with its hand woven seat and back made from ‘Polyolefin belt’ - a fibre resistant to fungus, bacteria, sunlight, humidity, chlorine and food stains.’ What’s more it is environmentally friendly as Polyolefin polymers contain no plasticizers, acids or heavy metal compounds.

The Grignoon armchair sold by Kave Home could easily trace its origins back to Hans J Wegner’s CH25 Lounge Chair created for Carl Hansen & Son in 1950. The modernist chair caused a stir due to its choice of woven paper cord, which Wegner chose for its non stretching property and it is still being produced today in its original design. Kave Home’s offering combines solid acacia with synthetic rattan, a man made fibre often coated with UV additives to prevent fading and wear.

Spanish furniture company Point’s Weave Collection uses braided polyster rope around a powder coated aluminium frame. Launched in 2017, and inspired by the knotted nests of berry-weaver birds, Vincent Martinez’s collection includes twenty seven elements and has won an array of international awards.


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Tuesday:  8am - 6pm
Wednesday:  8am - 6pm
Thursday:  8am-6pm
Friday:  8am - 4pm
Saturday:  9am - 12pm
Sunday:  Closed



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