Award Winning Gardens

Gold Winner RHS CFS 2018

Designed by Karen Welman and John Warland & constructed by The Garden Builders

garden designed karen welman john warland builders chelsea

The Garden Builders were chosen to construct the Pearlfisher Garden for the Space To Grow category at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Evoking the world's largest garden, the fascinating natural landscape beneath the earth's oceans, the Pearlfisher Garden created a space for wonder and provoking thought at CFS, garnering a gold medal.

Designed by Karen Welman and the Pearlfisher branding agency in collaboration with garden designer and RHS multi-award winner John Warland, the Pearlfisher Garden captured the beauty of the underwater world while highlighting the dangers posed to its ecosystem by plastic pollution. The garden was designed to be an immersive experience to prompt businesses, brands and consumers to consider the environmental impact on our oceans of plastic waste and to take vigorous action against it through sustainable products and packaging.

The Pearlfisher Garden highlighted sustainable design through a captivating tableau of ocean life. Three aquatic tanks made of acrylic hosted ocean plants, fish and coral, forming part of a circular suspended ocean, surrounded by lush planting of cacti, succulents and exotics. Providing the garden with a variety of colours and textures, the planting included lithops that resemble the sand and stone on the seabeds, the tubular, coral-like Jade Plant, with its red-tinged tips, and the scallop-shaped Silver Crown.

Other planting creating a mesmerising underwater scenery included Trichocereus Pachanoi f. Cristata, a columnar cactus with undulating foliage that can grow up to six metres; the silvery-white Wooly Senecio, a succulent whose stems have a wave-like motion akin to that of seaweed in the ocean, the miniature, spherical chin cactus and the overhanging mistletoe cactus. Tillandsia useneoides were suspended from the ceiling, producing an algae-like effect. 
At the centre of the suspended ocean, a 3D printed sculpture of a pearl diver made of recycled PLA plastic represented man's reliance on the ocean's bounty. The aquatic tanks supported the structure and contained cultured fish and marine planting. Sunlight hitting the glass ceiling created dappled shadows on the Portland stone paving, resembling the movement of water in the ocean.

The garden likewise featured the sculpture Coral Man, by Jason deCaires Taylor, known for his underwater, environmental installations. The sculpture was meant to draw attention to the threat to the marine ecosystem of coral bleaching, the phenomenon of algae expulsion due to warm temperatures, causing coral to turn dead-white, ultimately dying if algae do not return. The muted tones of the Coral Man contrasted sharply with the colourful planting, conveying the dour juxtaposition of beauty and loss if the gradual degradation of the oceans persisted.

Sheet steel surrounding the garden featured a quote from Shakespeare's The Tempest, from Ariel's Song. The debossed inscription was meant to disintegrate along with the steel, again highlighting the theme of loss in our beautiful oceans.

The destructive impact of plastic waste was highlighted by the boundary wall filled with plastic bottles, representing the amount of plastic thrown into the ocean.
The Pearlfisher Garden was imagined to inspire all designers to strive to create responsibly sustainable design. It aimed to impart a visual legacy for future generations showcasing the beauty of the underwater garden of the oceans and what could be irrevocably lost through continued inaction on one of a pressing global issue.