At this time of year we eagerly anticipate London’s annual Chelsea Flower Show. Every year, we love to visit the world-renowned show which gives us so much inspiration for our own gardens. This year’s show has been cancelled, but as a tribute to the wonderful and innovative installations we usually enjoy, we thought we would share our favourite unconventional garden projects designed at the Kit Kemp studio. We hope this collection of unusual gardens spark some inspiration, whether you have a tiny terrace, a sprawling back garden or even an indoor space to work with.
1. Alfresco Bathing at Decorex
I was invited to design the entrance stand at Decorex. The theme for the fair that year was ‘The Silk Route’, so I designed a stand inspired by a traveller’s hideaway.
In one half of the space, I created a little indoor-outdoor oasis. The outdoor nook was created using a driftwood wallpaper to line the walls behind the Crittal window frame partition. Abundance is key when designing an outdoor space, it’s important to emulate the wild quality of nature. To evoke this, we positioned olive trees, sprawling plants and an organic Tom Stogdon sculpture hung on the wall behind the luxurious Drummonds bath.
We surrounded the bath with white pebbles, grasses and crab apples around the base for an organic and immersive feel. The metalwork tree wall light fixture added an extra nod to the outdoors in this miniature ode to a garden.
2. New York City Pocket Farm
Up on the roof at Crosby Street Hotel in Manhattan, we have a working vegetable patch which I like to think of as our very own pocket farm.
We produce tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. The spoils of our humble weekly harvest are often used in the salad of the day in The Crosby Bar below.
Our three resident chickens enjoy the greener side of life, compared to the neighbouring rooftops of downtown SoHo, usually home to water towers and pylons. Our rooftop garden is a little oasis I created to allow more green to flourish in the city.
3. High Tea at Chelsea Flower Show
One of my all time favourite garden-scapes is the high tea themed garden nook I created for Chelsea Flower Show in collaboration with Bloomsbury Flowers.
To accompany the tea service, we made cakes garnished with little radishes and carrots to feel like miniature sprouting vegetable patches. Antique and organic driftwood furniture culminates together to create a space that feels like it’s been there for years, overgrown with moss and vines.
4. Dining in a Potting Shed
Another favourite garden inspired scheme is The Potting Shed at Dorset Square Hotel. On the walls, a collection of ceramics by Martha Freud resemble rows of delicate miniature garden pots.
Sitting against a soft chalky green, the collection of moulds, from Griffins and gargoyles to pieces of cornicing detail, come together to evoke the sense of treasures hoarded and saved from a crumbling ruin found in a wild and forgotten garden. Details such as the multitude of green and yellow fabrics and the white plaster leaves that line the walls of The Potting Shed, create an expressive homage to a garden hideaway. This restaurant truly feels like a gardener’s potting shed.
5. Secret Garden at Bergdorf Goodman
Last summer, I was invited to create a display inspired by an English country garden at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
We wanted to create something with impact, so we collaborated with our favourite New York florist, Lewis Miller Design to create a woodland installation. The striking twisted and organic tree was made up of wooden branches, ferns and moss. It was a real show stopper. I hung a little bird cage artwork from the tree’s branches to add a playful detail – there always has to be a little humour thrown in.
On entering the space I placed a pair of large stone hounds decorated with floral garlands that set the tone for the enchanting pop-up beyond. We used things that you would find in the garden, like little handmade bird boxes. They look lovely as an art installation when hung together. Each is a masterpiece of whimsy!
6. A Rooftop Meadow in the Heart of Manhattan
At Crosby Street Hotel, you will discover a miniature English country meadow tucked away on a second floor terrace adjoining the Meadow Suite.
It is a hidden grove, complete with an apple tree and a soft lawn where our guests can enjoy a morning coffee or even a sprawling picnic. We love how unexpected this wild haven is, hidden away in the centre of downtown Manhattan.
7. A Front Garden in London
Here we are at home in a garden as big as a handkerchief but filled with colour and interest.
Although we don’t have the joys of Chelsea Flower Show this year, I hope these unusual garden designs will inspire you to make the most of the outdoors and put your green thumbs to work!