The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced a new collaboration with Plankbridge, an RHS-endorsed designer and builder of contemporary shepherd’s huts, to produce the RHS Bothy, a contemporary version of the famous small Victorian-era hut used both for farm labourers and gardeners and as a mountain refuge.
The RHS Bothy will be launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May in the central display in the Great Pavilion, where it will host a series of RHS interviews with women in horticulture. Plankbridge itself will have a trade stand at Chelsea, where it has exhibited for more than ten years.
After the launch, this first-ever RHS Bothy will come to the Orchard at RHS Garden Wisley, the flagship garden of the RHS. In the Orchard it will supply an eye-catching centrepiece as part of an exciting project to reimagine edible growing at RHS Garden Wisley, and, of course, a showcase of the craftsmanship and skill behind these elegant dwellings.
RHS Garden Wisley inspired a number of the Bothy’s design features. They include the desk brackets, forged over Dorset charcoal, which were based on the boot scraper outside the Wisley Arts & Crafts Old Laboratory. There are also motifs from the RHS Lindley Collections, the world’s largest collection of botanical art, engraved in the desk back.
RHS Bothies will be on sale online and through in-person orders via the Plankbridge workshop from the launch in 2023. They will all be made to order.
The endorsement will be indicated by an RHS logo, which will be displayed on a small plaque on the door of each bothy. Plankbridge is the only shepherd's hut and bothy maker endorsed by the RHS.
With an English ash writing desk, shelves for garden books and an armchair, along with curtains and a Roman blind using RHS-endorsed fabrics, the design combines the feel of the Victorian bothy but with all the comforts of the modern age. In fact, like the Plankbridge shepherd’s huts, this up-to-date take on a centuries-old concept has many contemporary uses: as a working-from-home space, as somewhere for hobbies, to write or play music, or simply as a place for busy gardeners to relax.
Plankbridge huts are made by craftspeople at the company’s premises in Dorset. They are built to last for generations. Strongly influenced by the best Victorian hutmakers and the Arts and Crafts movement, Plankbridge keenly supports heritage craft skills and apprenticeships.
Richard Lee, Founder, Plankbridge, says: “I grew up in a former keeper’s cottage in bluebell woods near Wimborne in Dorset and there was a little bothy there that I can picture to this day. I was therefore thrilled when the RHS asked if we could work on a unique design together, one that takes inspiration both from RHS Garden Wisley and, of course, my own childhood memories.”
Cathy Snow, RHS Licensing Manager, added: “Once again Plankbridge has produced an exceptional example of UK craftsmanship working closely with the RHS licensing team and taking inspiration from RHS Garden Wisley, that is also an appealing and highly functional contemporary space with multiple uses. We’re proud to endorse the RHS Bothy and look forward to continuing our successful relationship with the highly skilled, very experienced and enormously enthusiastic Plankbridge team.”
Richard Lee founded Plankbridge along with his partner, Jane Dennison, with the aim of making the ‘finest quality huts in the UK’. He remains strongly influenced by the best Victorian hutmakers, whose design and craftsmanship informs the range of contemporary shepherd’s huts Plankbridge builds today. Plankbridge huts are now shipped all over the world – to New York, Portugal, France, Switzerland and beyond.