Mother’s day gifting | Shop now

Crocus at the Chelsea Flower Show 2023

The Nurture Landscapes Garden

Helen Derrin

Written by: Crocus Plant Doctor, Helen

Last updated: 23rd May 2023

The Gold Medal winning garden is inspired by Cedric Morris, who is probably best remembered for his wonderful paintings, but he was also a highly regarded plantsman. After visiting his former home at Benton End, Sarah Price was so inspired, she sought to bring the spirit of his garden to the Chelsea showgrounds. For us, building this garden has been an exciting challenge. It's pushed us to try new things and spurred us on to track down some really unique plants, but we're so pleased we did, because the end result is an enchanting garden that's packed full of colour and craftsmanship. If you can't make it to the show this year, here's your chance to enjoy a front row seat while we take you on a guided tour of the garden.


Benton Iris - the stars of the show

Often depicting bearded iris in his paintings, Morris was particularly drawn to those with mercurial, often subtle pigmentation, with intricate colour breaks and distinctive stippling. Keen to create his own strains, he would cross breed parent plants to produce hundreds of seedlings each year - and from these he would select just a handful to become 'Benton Iris'. Sadly, they're now scattered far and wide, but Sarah Cook (former head gardener at Sissinghurst) is in the process of amassing the National Collection of Cedric Morris irises, and with her help, we've managed to track down several different cultivars to feature in our garden. Exquisite and rarely seen, we think they're really special.


Sarah's Planting style

By planting a cornucopia of bulbs, iris, annuals and perennials in naturalistic drifts, Sarah has given the garden a wild, somewhat unrestrained exuberance. Choosing pines, elaeagnus and osmanthus to bring height, substance and form, she's also planted them in a way that brings a sense of seclusion to the gladed pockets. Sarah's use of colour is intriguing and complex - a mix of smokey pinks, blues, yellows and creams, all given depth and body with a smattering of richer shades - like the deep maroon of the wiry-stemmed Aeoniums found in the hand-made planters. Backed by the vast painted canvases that enclose the garden, the planting looks magical, containing just the right balance of nature and nurture.


Other things to look for

We're particularly proud of the effort that's gone into this garden, and how experimental it has been. Throughout the build the focus has been on sustainability and craftsmanship, and wherever possible we've been sourcing locally or using reclaimed materials to create different elements of the garden. The reclaimed canvasses that help form the boundary have all been hand-painted by Sarah using plant based paint, while the straw cob bales were sourced from a farm just down the road from Crocus. Once in place, a traditional lime render mixed with brick dust and sharp sand from previous Chelsea gardens (for extra colour and texture) was applied.


Hand-made at Crocus

Most of the paving, pots, planters, bricks and even furniture has been made on the nursery using either low-carbon, reclaimed, recycled or repurposed materials. It's what's given each piece its own unique character. All the compost used in The Nurture Garden has come from Crocus' very own (and very large) compost heap. Made from recycled cuttings and plant waste, it's eco-friendly and packed full of nutrients.


Plants we love from Sarah's garden

A huge amount of craftsmanship and skill goes into the making of a Chelsea garden. With only 3 weeks to bring the garden to life, the key to success is preparation, which starts at least a year before. The Nurture Landscapes Garden was a particularly challenging garden to prepare for, as so many of the materials within it were hand-made on our nursery. Watch the video below to discover the story of the build.

The Garden Museum is currently restoring the house and gardens at Benton End, re-establishing it as a hub for creative arts and horticulture. We're really happy to be able to support their work, so after the show closes, we'll be sending most of the plants up there (some returning to their original birthplace) where they can be reinstated in the garden.

View the Nurture Landscapes Garden plant list (pdf)


Go behind the scenes at our previous Chelsea gardens.

The Centrepoint Garden, designed by Cleve West
Read more

Discover Sarah's plants
Shop now

Learning about Sarah's colour palette

Read more

Copyright © Ltd 2024. All rights reserved.