No Man’s Land.
Gold Medal-winning garden at RHS Chelsea 2014

Charlotte Rowe won a coveted Gold Medal for her show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014. The garden marked the centenary of World War One and was created in partnership with ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and with the support of Bechtel and Coutts.

The show garden was one of the large show gardens on Main Avenue. Titled ‘No Man’s Land’, it was a conceptual representation of the landscape of World War One and served as a poignant reminder of the challenges and hardships faced by soldiers 100 years ago, while highlighting the work of The Soldiers’ Charity helping those facing challenges and hardships today.

The aim of the garden was to remember this conflict and reflect how the landscape of the Western Front, though changed forever, has regenerated and healed. This is a metaphor for the effect of war on the human body and spirit and its capacity to recover. The garden was conceptual and aimed to represent aspects of the landscape of the chalk downlands of the Somme where many battles were fought including:

  • A grass mound which refers to the Butte de Warlencourt an ancient burial mound held for most of the war by the Germans and which came to be seen as a symbol by the allied forces of the menace of the Germans.
  • A water basin which represents the many deep circular mine craters which lie all over the Western Front and which now have become peaceful havens for plants and wildlife.
  • An area of mixed native and ornamental planting amongst limestone setts which represent the villages and towns that were destroyed or badly damaged during the conflict. This lost gardens area reminds us of the private gardens of the people living in those communities.
  • An excavated area below ground and a number of grass mounds which remind us of the trench and tunnel networks which ran through the area and which can still be detected today.
  • A long polished concrete wall along one boundary which references the many fortifications and pillboxes still found along the Western Front. The central plinth has a long slit which reminds us of the firing and viewing platforms in the trenches.