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25+ Artisan Gardens Ideas

The Satoyama Life garden won a Gold Medal and was also chosen as the Best Artisan Garden – and for once we agree with the Chelsea judges, although it was a pretty obvious choice as it was easily the best of the small gardens – we also particularly like the designer’s work and his intricate use of moss.

It was created by Japanese designer, Kazuyuki Ishihara, who was responsible for our overall favourite garden at Chelsea in 2010.

The amount of detail that went into this garden was above and beyond what you’d normally expect.

We looked round the back of the garden, where the public isn’t normally expected to go, and the green wall and other planting had been extended back there too, something other gardens don’t generally bother with….

Ishihara was inspired by the way people used to live in the Satoyama – the space between the lowlands and the mountains in Japan.

People’s daily life was closely linked with nature, and the garden reflects this simpler lifestyle.


We loved the contrasts – The softness of the moss with the spiky leaves of the Iris – The vibrant red of the Acer with the calming green of the sedums.


Ishihara hopes that it demonstrates how we can still live in harmony with nature today and treat it with respect.


The well (below) has a green roof made up of sedums (succulent plants from the Crassulaceae family, which includes sempervivum – these can thrive on even the smallest green roof).

The sedums also wrapped the whole garden in a soft been blanket. It must have taken a long time to grow and position this expanse of sedums.


The Plant Explorer’s Garden was sponsored by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) and designed by Karolina Tercjak and other SAC students. It won a Silver Gilt Medal.


The design was inspired by the Victorian plant explorers, and looks deliberately ramshackle, as he spends most of his time travelling and collecting plants.


The design includes an outdoor office, with a small green roof, and a greenhouse.


All collectors want to preserve the specimens they collect, and the designers came up with a beautiful way to do it – they used clear polyester casting resin to hold the plants in suspended animation.


The Naturally Dry Garden was, apparently, inspired by William Wordsworth (who was more famous for wandering in the Lake District than in drier climes of South East England, which is regularly hit by drought and would be suitable for the planting in this garden.


It won a Silver Medal, and was designed by Vicky Harris.


The standout feature is the old wellhead being used to capture rainwater via a chain from the shed roof.

The Brontës’ Yorkshire Garden won a Gold Medal. It was designed by Tracy Foster, and was inspired by the Yorkshire moors associated with the literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë.


It is apparently based on a place the sisters used to visit close to a ruined farmhouse near Haworth that vaguely fits the description for the area around the fictional Wuthering Heights.

The garden includes a stream, stone bridge and a book that someone has carelessly left behind…. they won’t see that again (not without their glasses, obviously).

Continuing on a rocky theme, there is Pepa’s Story, an even more bleak evocation of the Slovenian Karst region, with a stone shepherd’s hut


It won a Silver Gilt Medal and was designed by Borut Benedejčič.


Karst has given its name to any areas of dissolute limestone, which include parts of Yorkshire and the Burren in Ireland, where not a lot grows, but when it does it is often interesting.

The Plankbridge Shepherd’s Hut Garden won a Silver Medal for its designers, Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith.


This is a wildflower garden inspired by the Dorset countryside written about in the novels of Thomas Hardy, and built around a scaled-down version of a Dorset shepherd’s hut kitted out as a writer’s retreat.

Typical Chelsea. A very romantic way to grow beans (using five shepherd’s crooks as a climbing frame)  – but a bit expensive to copy.

The APCO Garden won a Silver Medal for its designers, Ruth Willmott and Frederic Whyte.

It was inspired by the gardens of the Italian Renaissance, and has walls built from recycled Italian stonework, with evergreen hedging, running water, and cool foxgloves surrounded by hotter coloured Geum flowers. The three thin conifers in the pool were each planted in a pot, inside another pot, so that their roots were not in the water.

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