Landform Consultants' Catherine MacDonald returns to RHS Chelsea with the Boodles 

Company: Landform Consultants

Principal Landscape Designer at Landform Consultants, Catherine MacDonald, is designing ‘The Boodles National Gallery Garden’ at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024, with the garden being a celebration of the gallery’s Bicentenary.

This Sanctuary Garden will be Catherine’s sixth RHS Chelsea garden and marks her return to the iconic flower show after a five-year break following a run of gold medals in 2017 and 2018 for the pioneering non-alcoholic drinks brand Seedlip.

Taking inspiration from paintings at the gallery, the Boodles National Gallery Garden evokes the spirit of many significant and much-loved artworks that are on display for millions of visitors to enjoy every year.  The creative vision for the design draws from artistic elements, embracing colours, textures and ‘hidden details’ in paintings including, most prominently, The Water-Lily Pond (Monet), Lake Keitele (Gallen-Kallela), Portrait of Hermine Gallia (Klimt), The Fighting Temeraire (Turner) plus several Seurat and Canaletto paintings.

Designer Catherine MacDonald said: “Nature has proven to be the Artist’s most treasured Muse providing endless inspiration to record and cherish its intricacy and beauty for millennia. Aristotle wrote: ‘Art not only imitates nature, but it also completes its deficiencies’ in other words; art can recreate the beauty of the natural world as well as offer new ways in which to experience it.  We want that for visitors, to not just view the Boodles National Gallery Garden, but experience it, in a myriad of different ways, just as artists do.  We invite visitors to paint with plants, experiment with texture, sculpt with the landscape, be inspired to play with light and shadow, repetition of form, and colour. Above all we want them to celebrate their love of nature by creating joy and reveling in their own space.

“I am thrilled to return as a designer after a 5-year break although I have been involved in one form or another for almost 20 consecutive years.  As a former student of art, it is a passion of mine, so to be invited by Boodles to create this garden celebrating the 200th anniversary of this famous and historic gallery, feels like a pleasure and a privilege.”

With a theme of ‘art and nature’ the planting scheme, topiary, sculptural metal arches and water features are all inspired by or represent aspects of specific paintings and art movements, including Pointillism and Impressionism.  Subtle links to prominent paintings in the gallery collection will pervade the garden's design and planting, providing visitors a visual treat where nature represents art, and vice versa.

James Amos, Director, at Boodles said: “RHS Chelsea has become a firm feature in the Boodles annual events calendar and we are thrilled to be returning once again. This time we are working with the wonderful garden designer Catherine MacDonald and helping the National Gallery to celebrate their bicentenary year with a Sanctuary Garden and a very special new jewellery collection which can be seen on our tradestand.”

The main focal structures in the garden comprise a series of bespoke light-weight metal sculptural arches influenced by the 'repetition & perspective' elements in Canaletto and Claude paintings and also by 'fabric & intricate details' in Klimt and Menzel paintings.

Bespoke water features are inspired by Gallen-Kallela's Lake Keitele, Rysselberghe's Coastal Scene and by 'play of light & reflections' in other paintings like Renoir's The Skiff and several Monets/Seurats.

The Boodles National Gallery Garden will be built by award-winning landscape contractors Gadd Brothers Trees & Landscapes, with Catherine again partnering with Will Gadd, foreman for her previous RHS Chelsea show gardens.

Landform Consultants will also be building two main avenue gardens for the National Autistic Society designed by Sophie Parmenter (Sophie Parmenter Studio) and Dido Milne (CSK Architects) and for the Stroke Association designed by Miria Harris, both gardens are generously sponsored by Project Giving Back.

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