THOUGHT-provoking, moving and hopeful – some of the words used to describe Tatton Park Gardens Silver Gilt-winning entry to this year’s RHS show.
For their 2014 garden, the team at Tatton were keen to deliver an exhibit that remembered WW1 during its centenary year.
Significant research led them to discover that each week during the First World War soldier gardeners, as they were called, were invited to write in with their experiences of the front line to The Gardeners’ Chronicle, the professional weekly for all gardeners.
In November 1918, a letter was sent from Lieutenant Meggles. Writing from the old German frontline near Ypres, he described wandering through the site of former gardens and listed the plants that were beginning to recover after four years of war, and even gave tips on how to help them become decorative again.
Inspired by the soldier’s descriptions, Tatton’s garden depicted four phases of these gardens on the Western Front that were lost to the First World War; the original gardens, a German trench, the recovering gardens of 1918 and the gardens as they are today.
The theme of the garden was the resilience of plants and their ability to overcome the atrocities of war.
The plants on show in the garden reflected those recorded as growing back in 1918 and weeds predominated another area.
Simon Tetlow, Tatton Park head gardener, said: “The garden team wanted to dedicate this garden to members of the Tatton garden team from 1914 who served and died overseas, William Williamson and Tom Gathercole.
“The aim of the garden was to show the power of plants to heal themselves and others.”