Navigating the Chelsea Landscape

The MJT Landscapes team, together with Caitlin McLaughlin, on build day one of ‘Spring’ by Hillier for Chelsea Flower Show 2017


For the second year running, Landscaping Contractors MJT Landscapes are supporting Hillier with our Chelsea Flower Show garden. MJT Landscapes Founder, Mark Tomlinson, shares some of the most challenging and rewarding elements in the creation of ‘Spring’ by Hillier.

MJT Landscapes and Hillier first worked together for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2016, when the company provided support for the Hillier exhibit at the late stages of the build. In 2017, they have been fully involved from the beginning.

“There is nothing bigger or better to be part of than the Chelsea Flower Show,” comments Mark Tomlinson, on why they were keen to be involved again. “It’s the elite! And to be there with Hillier, the gold-medal record holder, is brilliant. Of course, that adds some pressure too. We absolutely want to make sure everything is 100% as it should be to try and help keep that gold-winning streak.”

The company’s involvement covers many aspects of delivering the design vision. “There have been many Chelsea meetings and we have been liaising continually with Sarah Eberle (lead designer), Neil Robins (Hillier site manager) and the team at Fordingbridge (creators of the central spring structure). We have been planning what materials go where, sourcing them – e.g. the granite and resin - and managing volumes, as well as setting the site with levels to be achieved and technical programme management.”

The central structure in this year’s Hillier garden, the 12-metre by 4-metre metal helical shape, has proved a unique challenge. “We have never worked with a design quite like this one before!” explains Mark. “Due to the height of the structure and distance off the floor in some places, one of the biggest tasks during the build has been to make sure it is sturdy and the decking and central pavilion are properly in place. We have had to work underneath the rings, squeezing between the gaps! But, there are always new things to deal with in any build – you are never 100% sure what you will get until you start.”

Now, Mark and the team of seven from MJT Landscapes are looking forward to the finished result. “We are more than half way through the build at the show now and we can visualise how it will look in the end. Plants have now arrived along with the planting teams and the whole thing is coming together. It’s amazing to physically see the transformation and how the hard structure is combining with the plants; this part is definitely one of the best Chelsea moments. Now we are just fingers crossed for what the judges’ think!”