Show garden depicts processes of thinking and learning

Breaking Ground is a horticultural interpretation of the learning process. Photographs courtesy of Charlie Hopkinson and Gavin McWilliam

Wilson McWilliam Studio, working with students of Wellington College, Berkshire, has won a Gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for an installation depicting the learning and thought process in education.

Their show garden, ‘Breaking Ground’, uses a series of steel frameworks to suggest neuron and synapse connections in the brain, their open structure a reference to the school’s belief that there should be no barriers to learning. Around them flows an undulating meadow of purple salvias, valerian and Stipa gigantea signifying lateral thinking, punctuated with umbels to represent sudden flashes of inspiration.

Water pools and rills running around the site continue the theme of connections and places of reflection, but are also an acknowledgment of the human body’s reliance on water. Bronze boundary walls are etched in waves with personal statements from students of Wellington College about their hopes for the future and a better world.

The pine, birch and marsh planting, and the rough-cut York stonework of the garden, are also a response to the landscape of sandy heathland surrounding the college.

Breaking Ground was sponsored by Darwin Property Investment Management and built by The Outdoor Room.

More on the Breaking Ground project here.

Full list of RHS Chelsea Flower Show medal winners here.


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