Saturday, 9 July 2016

A Breath of Fresh Air - plant list

The Abbeyfield : A Breath of Fresh Air 

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016

A garden designed for people living with dementia. Thank you for visiting the show - it has been a great success for my sponsor and residents have visited and enjoyed the garden every day. We all feel honored to have been involved with such a worthy cause. The garden will live on with the relocation to a care home in Kew next week.

Plant list:

Trees –
Salix alba pollard (white willow)

Grasses -
Calamagrostis overdam 
Carex testacea
Miscanthus grascillimus 
Miscanthus morning light 
Stipa tenuissima

Shrubs and Perennials -
Achillea terracotta 
Astilbe peach blossom
Delphinium black Knight
Geum totally tangerine 
Lavandula angustifolia 
Lavandula Hidcote 
Lavandula twickle purple
Mentha piperita 
Pittosporum golf ball
Salvia caradonna
Thymus silver queen 
Verbascum alba
Verbascum Helen Johnson 

Hedge –
Taxus bacatta 

If you like the Mobius sculpture and are interested in buying it or one similar please contact the sculptor James Milner :              


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A breath of fresh air

A Breath of Fresh Air

There are few things more reviving than a breath of fresh air. Being outside in a green space can provide a sense of calm and well being, promote better health and even improve sleep patterns. When people are living with health problems, fresh air can be even more beneficial, especially if they have had to become fairly inactive or spend a lot of time inside.

The Abbeyfield Society : A Breath of Fresh Air
Designed by Rae Wilkinson
Computer visual created by Coucou Design

I am a firm believer in the healing power of nature and of beautiful places which provide space, a sense of escape, and some contact with nature.
When I design gardens I am always thinking of the emotional effect of the space on the people who enter it. How it will trigger the senses ...calm the mind .. Consciously or not people are usually affected by their surroundings and I see it as my job to stimulate some good feeling even just for a moment. The effect  may be of decompression, a momentary lift, simply space or distraction. A garden is a living, breathing evolving space and  this makes it a magical medium to work with.

The Abbeyfield Society : A Breath of Fresh Air
Designed by Rae Wilkinson
Computer visual created by Coucou Design

I have created a garden for this years RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for The Abbeyfield Society to launch their Breath of Fresh Air scheme. Abbeyfield are an international organisation running care homes for the elderly, many of whom live with dementia. They are keen to encourage their residents and carers into the garden to enjoy the multiple benefits of being outside. Even in the late stages of dementia a person still experiences emotional response, so a garden can be a valuable resource.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016: July 5th - 10th

Sunday, 3 April 2016


Rae Wilkinson Design, Living Landscapes and Chaircreative created a soothing HUG at RHS Flower Show 2015

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015 - Silver Gilt 

Living Landscapes Healing Urban Garden showed how a green space in an urban setting can be wonderfully soothing and restorative.
Pooling our design and build talents, the HUG team successfully created a soothing, sculptural, urban garden space. The crowds loved the colour and feel of the space and the focal bench brought the intended wow factor.
Planting was low maintenance, evergreen and predominantly herbs, providing a scented and naturalistic vibe to the space with hues of silver and blue.
The HUG bench was lovingly created using sectional high grade oak which was carved and bleached, and set on custom cast white concrete feet. Its a piece of sculpture, a wonderful seat and a statement piece for any garden space.*
Urbis supplied a Lily water bowl and three of their new style Olive Pots for display in the garden, which added to the urban feel.
The cool and low maintenance Kota blue limestone plank paving was supplied to us bespoke from London Stone Paving.
A light Meadowgrass Marble gravel from CED connected the paving to the planting beautifully.

Team HUG: Rae Wilkinson, Alun Heslop and Tecwyn Evans on the HUG Bench at the show

* The HUG bench is available to buy, please contact me if you would like more information :

Rae Wilkinson:

Living Landscapes:


Suppliers:London Stone Paving:


Stone Globe lights:

Print Hut:

Friday, 3 July 2015

Living Landscapes : HUG Plant list

Living Landscapes : HUG Plant list

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015

It has been a wonderful experience exhibiting this year at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show - if you have visited I hope you enjoyed the show. Here is the final plant list: 

Living Landscapes : HUG – Healing Urban Garden - Silver Gilt

Plant List

Cercis canadensis
Eucalyptus debeuzevilii 

Lavandula Edelweiss 
Lavandula Hidcote 
Thymus broadleaf 
Thymus Bressingham pink
Thymus Citriodorus
Thymus snowdrift
Rosmarinus roma
Rosmarinus officionalis 
Salvia officionalis 
Salvia officionalis purpurea 

Hebe Sutherlandii 
Hebe Mrs Winder
Pittosporum tobira nanum 
Pittosporum tom thumb
Pittosporum variegatum 
Westringia fruticans

Perennials and grasses:
Artemisia Powis castle
Allium Sphaerocephalon 
Astilbe Fanal 
Deschampsia cespitosa
Deschampsia pixie fountain
Eryngium picos blue
Euphorbia amygdaloidies purpurea 
Hakonechloa macra 
Nepeta walkers low
Perovskia blue spire
Salvia tanzerin
Stachys silver carpet

Sempervivium thundercloud

Friday, 27 February 2015

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015 - Living Landscapes H U G by Rae Wilkinson

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2015:
My Healing Urban Garden with Living Landscapes

I am delighted to be creating a show garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this year, for their 25th anniversary year. The garden will be built and sponsored by Living Landscapes, an award winning landscaping company based in Horsham, West Sussex.

For me, having designed and cared for gardens for many years, creating a show garden brings the opportunity to be creative in a more imaginative way.

The garden is entitled ‘H U G’ - an acronym for ‘Healing Urban Garden’. The design is based on the  idea that green space in an urban environment can be powerfully restorative. My intention is to create a place of escape and retreat, a sensory hug within a small and simple green space.

The colour scheme has been selected for calming qualities, whilst the planting palette is a largely herbal, evergreen and low maintenance combination of scented and textural foliage. Planting is my passion and will be key to the final effect.

Bold sculptural elements take the form of a curved sectional wall providing a sense of enclosure, and a large scale curved bleached oak bench.
The H U G bench is an important focal point and destination within the garden, designed in collaboration with award winning sculptor Alun Heslop of Chaircreative who will be making it. We have come up with this bench design specifically for the garden, to provide an organic and welcoming resting place, big enough to share with a companion - or to recline, and providing a sense of being held.

A curved path journeys into the space, flanked by sensory planters to create distraction and provide a decompression opportunity. Next to the bench is a large water bowl to bring a reflective water element, bringing the sky and the birds to the visitors side.

Our garden appears in the Summer Gardens category which is very popular and always well worth a visit for intriguing ideas.

Follow these links to find out more about the show, as well as those involved in the garden:

RHS show gardens 2015:

Rae Wilkinson Design:

Living Landscapes:

Alun Heslop:

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Climatic planting

There are many conflicting and controversial theories as to why our seasons are so unpredictable these days. I am sure that human triggered climate change has as much to do with it as the basic evolution of the planet does. I have certainly noticed a marked change over the 15 years I have been working outside.

When I became a working gardener around the turn of the century we were experiencing long periods of drought. Consequently the planting palettes we worked with at the time were very Mediterranean and as the seasons also remained fairly mild, some more exotic plants were commonly used too. Over the years I have watched the winter cold spells both shrink and grow and shrink again, and I have watched drought turn to flood. Every year we watch groups of plants suffer and have had to try new plants and be more and more careful about what we use.

So where have we got to? Well its exciting in part, as we are thinking more laterally about our choices. Palettes have broadened sideways and we are looking at more indigenous plants as well as plants which tolerate both drought and flood. I'm not desperately sad to see less exotics (maybe its purely a fashion thing..) and Meditteranean plants have to be located carefully and replaced more frequently. New Zealand plants often do well, and there is a lot more varieties of plants coming over from Europe where new-wave perennials and natural swimming pools have been deeply researched for optimum success.
A lot more of us are thinking more like Noel Kingsbury in terms of combining and inter-planting particular species according to how well they establish or diminish over time, and looking to nature to find what works.
Call me a naturalist but I quite like to see indigenous plants growing in gardens as much as possible.

What excites me most is in fact the return to nature in our thinking. We have had to look at how things thrive in nature, and how conditions change and how some species can tolerate this.

What is not exciting of course is the endless long, mild ..and often grey.. weather we have now. It demands further thinking on colours when selecting plants and hard surfaces, as the light plays very differently on everything on this damp little Isle compared to how it does anywhere with more present sunshine.

Most of us who work outside always end up wishing we lived much nearer the equator...

 Mediterranean plants on higher ground combine well here with naturalistic planting more suited to our current climate. Hambledon garden by Rae Wilkinson

All images above are planting schemes by Rae Wilkinson. All rights reserved.