Each year during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show the Garden Museum asks the designer of a show garden to tell the story behind their masterpiece, from conception to design and planting.
This year we have invited Harris Bugg Studio to speak, designer of the M&G Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.
One of the UK’s leading garden design studios, Harris Bugg Studio designs soulful gardens that are rich with meaning, mystery, and relevance.
Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg will share their experiences and inspiration for their design for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, a design postponed from 2020, as well as referring back to Charlotte’s previous gold in 2017 and Hugo’s gold in 2014, which made him the youngest ever gold winner at the show.
The M&G Garden is about transforming neglected, unloved areas into new, tranquil and beautiful green spaces in the places we need them most – our towns and cities. The garden is imagined as a peaceful oasis, pocket park-like in its design – a public space for people and wildlife to share and enjoy all the benefits of being in nature. Unusually for Chelsea, the garden is a public green space imagined in an urban setting – challenging our usual notions of what a garden can be. The aim is to inspire designers, developers and communities to see how even the most unlikely places can be transformed into welcoming and sustainable green spaces in towns and cities everywhere.
Charlotte and Hugo collaborated with the architect Andrew Mcmullan on the creation of a 100 linear metre metal pipework sculpture that weaves its way around the garden. The result is a sensory experience that reimagines an everyday object – steel pipes – into a beautiful and elegant part of the garden. Andrew joins Charlotte and Hugo to talk about working together on the garden.
While both Charlotte and Hugo have won individual gold medals for Main Avenue gardens at Chelsea, this is their first Chelsea show garden together.
Charlotte’s BA Hons in History from the University of Birmingham drives her approach to design, using historical, geological, and anthropological narratives and interpretations. She studied Landscape Design at Merrist Wood, while at the same time working on-site to ensure a clear grasp of landscape construction techniques.
Charlotte spent four years training at Tom Stuart-Smith’s award-winning landscape architecture practice as well as planting seven gold medal winning RHS Chelsea gardens including one Best in Show. In 2017 her first RHS Chelsea show garden for the Royal Bank of Canada won a gold medal. Inspired by the vast boreal landscapes of northern Ontario, Stephen Lacey of the Telegraph described it as “…a beautifully executed composition of copper, glacial granite, and airy layered planting…”
Charlotte speaks and gives talks regularly, is visiting lecturer for the Bartlett’s Landscape Architecture department. She writes on design, planting, and on better representation and diversity in the sector
Hugo graduated with a BA (Hons) in Garden Design from Falmouth University. He was named RHS Young Designer of the Year in 2010 and has won a series of Gold medals across the RHS Flower Shows including Chelsea, Hampton Court Palace Show (2011) and Tatton Park (2010, where he also won Best in Show). At Chelsea, his win for his large show garden of 2014, ‘The RBC Waterscape Garden’, made him the youngest ever Gold medal winner at the show. He returned to Chelsea in 2016 with the highly acclaimed Royal Bank of Canada garden that was inspired by the beautiful Aleppo Pine forests of the north of Jordan.
Hugo gives guest lectures and seminars and writes about his work for various publications. He is an RHS mentor for young designers.
Andrew believes design is optimistic. For 15 years, he held senior-level positions at Allies and Morrison, Heatherwick Studio and was Vice-President of HOK, helping to create award-winning projects that made a deep impact on places and people. In 2018, he founded Mcmullan Studio to evolve his positive design approach by creating projects where wellbeing, diversity and nature are designed into daily life. A graduate of the Architectural Association, Andrew has sat on international award juries and taught at Central Saint Martins and the Architectural Association. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a UK Design Council Expert.
Jo Thompson - Chair
Jo Thompson - Chair
Listed by House & Garden and Country Life magazines as one of the country’s top ten garden designers and plantswomen, Jo Thompson has won multiple awards, including four Gold medals for RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens. She sits on several RHS advisory committees, is an RHS judge, lectures in the UK and internationally and is a visiting tutor at the London College of Garden Design.
Jo's approach to garden design is one of creating harmony within the landscape; colour, architecture and the surrounding landscape all working together. She is committed to working sustainably, favouring local, natural materials, and through her use of plants, she aims to improve and enhance the biodiversity of each project.
Jo’s particular love of colour will be celebrated in her forthcoming book The Gardener's Palette, which will be published by Timber Press in spring 2022.