Chelsea Flower Show

Gold medal award for the design and construction of a garden on a Japanese theme.


The idea of exhibiting a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show came about as a way of hopefully restoring our principal’s self esteem, which had taken a knock over the design of a herbaceous border on a country estate, the gardens of which at the time he was restoring. It was felt that by creating a garden which would be judged by his peers, the result would at least be a fair assessment of his abilities. In the event, the garden was awarded a gold medal, see image below.

RHS Gold Metal


In accordance with usual practice, sponsorship was sought to finance the construction of the exhibit. As it was to be a garden on a Japanese theme Japanese firms were approached; however only one responded offering GBP500.00, with the proviso that a garden tractor be placed in a prominent  position on the exhibit. The sum offered was inadequate and a tractor would have seriously compromised the design intent of the exhibit. Our principal therefore decided to finance the project out of his own pocket.

Design Philosophy

The design – a landscape in miniature in effect, was developed with a typical London backyard in mind, and viewed from a living-room or study. It was partly inspired by a garden we had created on a Japanese theme for a Japanese American businessman, whose wife informed us that the scene viewed from his study had imbued him with a peace that had enabled him to make wise business decisions in critical situations.

Certainly peace was the main factor, along with joy. Another influencing factor was the 1937 movie Lost Horizon, which features a stunningly beautiful place called Shangri- La or Valley of the Blue Moon, a place of peace and tranquility, permanent happiness and immortality.

That visitors enjoyed peace and joy (and perhaps a glimpse of immortality!) on viewing the garden was borne out by the many who struggled to see it, see image below, and those who sought us out offering their thanks and appreciation.

Gardeners’ News described it as “a garden to draw the lines from every furrowed brow and leave you at peace with the world and sinking into its beauty.”  See image below.