RHS Chelsea Flower Show: Meet the young garden designers

What does it take to create the ultimate garden? Brothers David and Harry Rich, the 20-something stars of the Chelsea Flower Show, explain how to design a beautiful outdoor space

We love the idea of gardening as being the new rock ’n’ roll. It’s certainly true that we meet more young people interested in it than ever before. It’s a generational thing.

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Our friends love gardening and they understand it, especially if it’s not just lawns and borders. We like gardens that are young, crazy and forceful and we want to show young people that gardening can be fun – these gardens and plants can last for ever and young people can embrace that.

We’ve both been into gardening since we were young. We were brought up in the Brecon Beacons and needed to do something creative yet outdoors, and garden design was a good choice. We studied it at university and it went from there. People do think we’re young to be designers but we’ve been building up the business for a while now. We first did Chelsea together when we did an artisan show garden. We realised that was the way in. We got some good comments about that and, from there, things took off.

Really we both like to design things, get our hands dirty, take the world of gardening and turn it on its head. We
like to build gardens from scratch using things we grew up with. We’re keen on  dry stone walls and things that feel innovative. For our Cloudy Bay garden this year we really wanted to do something young and different. We see a garden as being something that extends the house – part of it rather than separate. We like the idea of inside and out coming together so that the garden almost becomes another room and we use it as a space, something that works with a lifestyle choice.

At Chelsea we’ve built “The Shack” – a glass box on oak fins or slats. You can see through it but, in parts, it’s also opaque. It’s designed to be enticing. But the most exciting thing is that it moves.

It goes in a Z-fashion from one end of the garden to another. You push a button and it comes to you. It’s on a rail track powered by a motor. I don’t think anyone will have seen anything like it at Chelsea before. It rotates you round the garden and it gives you a lovely moving perspective that you wouldn’t get if you were walking through the garden. 

We also have tables and chairs that come out of the boundary wall and we commissioned a piece of art to come out of the wall, too, when the table and chairs fold down. We think it gives the whole experience some depth and plays with the notion of boundaries. It’s linking architecture to the garden.

We do have some flowers, though. We have some grasses and a mixture of delicate plants and some eye-catching ones. We’ll be using digitalis, a carpet of grasses, some angelica and Acanthus mollis. We’ll have a cherry tree in the middle to create depth but also a special type of garden.

Our garden is definitely not about a lawn and a gravel path and flower beds! It’s a rock ’n’ roll garden.

As told to Lucy Cavendish

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Coverage of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show begins on BBC1 tonight (Sunday 17th May) at 5.35pm