Profile: Yeo Valley Organic Garden At Chelsea Flower Show 2021 – Countryliving (UK)

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The Yeo Valley Organic Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021 will be displayed in the Show Garden category. Designed by Tom Massey and supported by Sarah Mead from Yeo Valley Organic, the garden is inspired by the wildlife, habitats and plants found on the family's farm in Somerset. The garden was due to exhibit at Chelsea 2020, before it was cancelled, so this is take two for the team.In the video above, Sarah describes the chance to exhibit a Chelsea garden in September as a "once in a lifetime opportunity to see a completely different horticultural palette." Here's everything we know about the 2021 design so far and what happened to the plants prepared for 2020...The Yeo Valley Organic Garden 2021: Design features

RHS|Tom Massey

The Yeo Valley Organic Garden will bring the ethos and values of the main family-run farm to London. The design will celebrate soil health, biodiversity and encourage pollinators and other insects. Sarah and Tom hope the wildlife-rich, sustainable garden design will encourage people to try the same methods in their own spaces at home, like planting pollinator-friendly plants, using organic compost, and avoiding plastic and chemical-based fertilisers and pesticides. The design includes an open perennial meadow area full of colourful, scented flowers to provide a nature-rich habitat. It will be separated from the rest of the garden using wall dividers made from biochar logs and earth. These specific logs are full of carbon and promote the idea of maintaining healthy, carbon-rich soil. Design featuresperennial meadowcolourful, scented flowersegg-shaped oak hidewoodland areamendip stonessilver birch treeswildlife-rich plantingThe main structural focal point will be an egg-shaped oak hide, handcrafted in Cornwall by Tom Raffield, as another nod to soil health and fertility. It will hang over a stream that twists and turns throughout the whole design and fills the space with the soothing sound of water.
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Another structural element will be mendip stones, taken from the Yeo Valley Organic farm in Somerset to London. They will be transported back to the farm after the show to rejoin the landscape. There is also a woodland area which will be home to fruit trees including medlar and quince, and flowering favourites like hawthorn and hazel. Silver birches will be "a big feature of the Chelsea garden," Sarah explains. Talking about silver birch trees in an Instagram post, Tom says they are "in my view an underrated tree – fast growing and native they can add instant impact."
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More from Chelsea 2021: What happened to the flowers grown for Chelsea 2020?Sarah and Tom were really keen that none of the flowers and plants grown for Chelsea 2020 would go to waste. They did not want to throw anything away and start from scratch. So, at the beginning of lockdown when the RHS announced the cancelation news, Tom redistributed two thirds of the plants to hospitals in and around London and Plymouth. They wanted to brighten-up the outdoor spaces of these hospitals in the midst of a very difficult time for the staff and the patients inside them. At the time, Tom said: "The horticultural industry has been hit hard by the cancellation of the Chelsea Flower Show and the lockdown measures. There have been reports of thousands of plants going to waste as no one can purchase them. "We wanted to take a more proactive approach and gift the plants to a good cause as a show of support for the NHS. We hope that the plants will brighten up the hospital grounds and provide a small boost to help NHS staff and patients through these incredibly trying times."
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The remaining third of the plants stayed on the farm as they were able to survive another year growing in pots, ready for the 2021 garden. Tom admits that it's been a challenge to keep the plants looks as fresh and vibrant a year on, but their organic principles promote the ideas of reuse and nurturing what already exists as opposed to perfectly manicured garden. Leaving some of the plants to grow for another year has also had its benefits, with the team describing how the ferns and grasses are now bigger, fuller and more dramatic. Who is Tom Massey?Tom Massey is an award-winning landscape and garden designer and graduate of the London College of Garden Design. He recently appeared on BBC Two's Your Garden Made Perfect and has won many medals at RHS flower shows. His awards shelf includes: RHS Silver-Gilt Medal at Chelsea 2018 for the Lemon Tree Trust GardenRHS Silver-Gilt Medal at Hampton Court 2017 for the Perennial Sanctuary Garden RHS Gold Medal and 'Best Conceptual Garden' at Hampton Court 2016 for the UNHCR 'Border Control' GardenIn an Instagram post announcing his partnership with Yeo Valley Organic at Chelsea, Tom said: It’s a privilege to be working with the @yeovalley team, who have been practicing organic farming and gardening for 25 years. I’ve learnt a huge amount from Yeo Valley and the @soilassociation in the process of designing a show garden founded on organic principles and I’ve seen first-hand how growing organically can positively impact the environment. The garden has been designed with sustainability in mind – the hard landscaping is low impact and walling stone and boulders will be sourced from the Yeo farmland. All the materials used in the garden will be returned to Yeo Valley after the show and the carbon produced will be locked into the farmland as biochar. The planting is biodiverse and species rich, distinct zones provide habitats and food for a range of wildlife. Where possible the plants for the garden will be grown organically, a big challenge for a Chelsea show garden. This means no chemical pesticides or fertilisers will be used and the compost the plants are grown in will be peat-free and organically certified. All the pots we use will be compostable as opposed to plastic. The aim of the garden is to showcase organic principles and the range of benefits organic farming and gardening provide for the natural environment. Who is Sarah Mead?Sarah Mead is part of the Yeo Valley Organic team. She is married to Tim Mead, son of Mary and Roger Mead who started the farm back in 1961. To start with, they had just 35 organic British Friesian cows. Now, Yeo Valley Organic is a thriving business selling organic dairy products including yoghurt, milk and butter. Sarah is head gardener at Yeo Valley but is also described as "head of the welcoming committee" on the farm, overseeing the many events that are held there, from weddings to hands-on gardening days. Sarah designed the Chelsea 2021 garden, alongside Tom Massey, which she describes as a "dream come true." Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.SIGN UPLooking for some positivity? Get Country Living magazine posted through your letterbox every month. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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