DOUBLE-DECKER GARDENS Extending your garden up or down is a great way of making more space in small gardens and takes the idea of a green roof one step further. The Ikea and Tom Dixon garden entitled Gardening Will Save The World combines a mix of traditional planting methods and futuristic horticulture. The leisure and relaxation element of the garden is elevated, while the area below does the hard work of growing salads, mushrooms and herbs under specialist grow lighting.
MOSS Another fantastic example of a double-decker garden was Ishihara Kazuyuki’s Green Switch. A garden that represents the space we inhabit when we ‘switch off’ from the stresses of contemporary urban life. Ishihara Kazuyuki is a master of moss and displays exquisite mossy spheres in lush piles. Moss also appeared in the RHS Back To Nature Garden and in the Welcome To Yorkshire Garden.
MAKE A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY Even in a small town garden Finnish designer Taina Suonio shows that you can create a sanctuary for yourself as well as a wide range of pollinators. In her garden, The Roots in Finland Kyrö Garden she draws them in with a fragrant and diverse range of perennials and flowering shrubs. If you’re looking for a new way of dividing up your space, try building a log wall like the one in Paul Hervey-Brookes’ Art of Viking garden. Not only is it relatively cheap and pretty to look at, it will act like a giant bug hotel, too.
SUSTAINABILITY AND IMPACT Chelsea is waking up to the issue of sustainability and how gardeners can have a more positive impact on their environment. A welcome move, but I would still like to see more of a focus on the materials we bring into our gardens and how they are implemented. The planting in The Harmonious Garden of Life, designed by Laurélie de la Salle, promotes environmental awareness and responds to the threat of global warming by using plants that require less water and even enrich the soil naturally such as clover. It also includes plants that purify the air; Bamboo absorbs high amounts of CO2 and Ivy is one of the best plants for absorbing pollutants from the air.
GREEN ON BLACK The huge burnt-oak timber sculptures created by craftsman Johnny Woodford for Andy Sturgeon's M&G garden. Staining a fence black is a bold move but in the right setting, it can look superb as it causes the boundary to recede. It also makes an excellent backdrop for planting particularly the popular shades of green on display including Equisetum, Restios, Nothofagus antartica, Carpinus betulus, Gunnera killipiana, Epiolobium, Arisaema and Disproposis bodinieri.
I visited Gucci Garden when I was recently in Florence, an interactive venue bringing together a restaurant, boutique and two floors of gallery space paying homage to maximalism in all its whimsical splendour. Conceived and designed by Gucci's creative director Alessandro Michele, it is located in the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia.
Alessandro Michele took the creative reins in 2015 and has since implemented his vision for the Florentine fashion giant. When it comes to flora and fauna, more is definitely more in the Gucci Garden.
For me, the most incredible treasures adorn the second floor, where two rooms, entitled De Rerum Natura explore Michele’s passion for gardens and the divine creatures that inhabit them. This preference for nature has been present since the brand’s inception and has long been part of their narrative.
Displays of clothing, accessories and objects burst with verdant embellishment. Amongst the planting and romantic blooms, Alessandro Michele’s Garden is decorated with totems: The scarlet Kingsnake represents knowledge in Greek and Roman art, whilst the industrial and cooperative bumblebee denotes nobility and connects Michele to his Roman roots. The Barberini are to Rome, what the Medici are to Florence and their coat of arms included three golden bees (I recall walking through Rome, keeping tally as and when I spotted another Barberini bee motif carved into stone).
Also on display is the original artwork by Vittorio Accornero de Testa, who was commissioned to create the Gucci Flora print in the 1960s.
The boutique, particularly the interior design is impressive and has since provided me with a trove of ideas and inspiration for my new seaside home in Margate.
Nature blossoms in Gucci Garden and I’d recommend it as a special trip when you are next in Florence.
The Gucci Garden Galleria and boutique are open from 10am to 7.30pm; entry to the galleries is €8, half of which will be donated to support restoration projects around Florence. Gucci Osteria is open from noon to 8.30pm; entry to the restaurant and the boutique is free of charge.