'Mind Trap' RHS Chelsea 2017 wins GOLD

MIND TRAP Fresh Garden for RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017, Site FR82 This garden is a physical manifestation of my personal experience of suffering from and living with depression. It's purpose is to help those that suffer in similar ways to be assured that they are not alone in their own personal struggles. It also endeavours to explain to others that have no personal experience of suffering what it may feel like, by way of a physical tangible living garden with the use of symbolism and creating an atmosphere. https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/Gardens/2017/mind-trap A huge thank you to everyone involved. Without you, the garden would have remained an idea on paper.


This garden presented quite a challenge, mainly because of the severe slope visible in the before photographs.  The main aim was to give the clients an outdoor space to be able to sit out and have a BBQ.  As the garden was, the only space they had was a tiny area of level tarmac which they shared with the bins. One major positive was that the area in question got sun from early in the morning, and very late into the evening.   

The clients had owned a house in Canada, and one of the requirements in the brief was to reference the decked area in their Canadian garden.  A space to entertain, relax, soak up the sun and to make use of the gorgeous views within the mature 3 acre garden were all needed. 

A split level platform joined by a set of timber steps formed the main spaces for this design.  By splitting the area into two levels the dining and lounging spaces could be made larger without dominating the whole garden.  In terms of the planting, it was important to select the appropriate plants to help the decking blend into the rest of the garden but also be easily managed.  As I built this myself it allowed for minor changes to be made as the garden progressed in conjunction with the clients. 

The lighting scheme was not only included in the immediate area around the new decking, but was also extended into the rest of the garden such as the lake area.  

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The view from the conservatory doors before the work commenced, showing the only space in the 3 acre garden that the client could put a table and chairs on.

Here you can see the garden, looking back up the tarmac access path, before we started the build.

The overall view of the new decked terraces. You can see how the new decking transforms an unusable space into a multi-functional outdoor living space.

The tarmac access path has been replaced by concrete brick paving. The limeststone flags join the brick paving flush and then flow around the planting to the upper decked platform.

This is the path that links the patio doors to the decked area. We kept this path level for ease of access with the BBQ and garden furniture.

Before the work started, this was the only level space available. The back door entrance has been softened greatly and made more interesting with the limestone path and step.

This view shows the height that the platforms were built at. The floating steps in the foreground are lit by blue LED lamps. The steps to the left lead down towards the river.

Access to the existing path around the front of the conservatory was achieved by these floating steps. They were cantalevered to give them a lighter feel. The lights set within the step risers increase interest and safety.

The bamboo will grow up to disguise the void below the top platform, as well as provide some shelter without interrupting the outward views.

A closer detail of the joining steps showing the overhead pergola struture. They allow for lighting to be incorporated to give overhead illumination to extend the use of the space long into the evening.

The lower level was designed with the large bench seating built in to save space. There is a gentle blue glow in the evening as the benches are underlit.

The path is gently illuminated by discrete low level lamps. The electrics in this garden were all switched by remote control to allow flexibility of use. Lighting is a great way to extend the use of the garden into the evening especially in the winte

In the background, the house and the new decked area can be seen over the gorgeous existing lake. The jetty was installed by us to allow the client to launch their canoe with a bit more security.