Elks-Smith Garden Design Awarded Silver Medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014

May 26 2014

Helen is delighted to announce that her garden design ‘The City Of London Corporation Oak Processionary Moth Garden’ has been awarded a prestigious Silver Medal at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014.

Described by the BBC Coverage ( Episode 7) as a ‘beautiful piece of work with a poignant message’.

Shroud noun 1. A cloth used to prepare a body for burial.

The garden features a stand of oak trees ‘shrouded’ in bespoke textiles which represent the cocoons and webbing nests of the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM). The shrouds, acting as symbols of decay, reach across a divide of hornbeam to a group of healthy oak trees. The planting of white plants such as Digitalis purpurea albiflora and Geranium phaeum ‘Album’ flows from the diseased trees to the healthy ones through gaps between hornbeam barriers – a representation of how pests and diseases will take advantage of gaps in treatment of OPM or biosecurity.

The OPM is normally found in oak forests in central and southern Europe but, since 2006, it has established a growing population in the UK. With no natural predators in Northern Europe to minimise it impact, infestations of the pest have proved impossible to eradicate in some areas of West and South-West London. The garden aims to raise awareness of OPM with landowners and the general public and underline the need and importance for co-ordinated treatment.

The story of the fabric: The original idea for the ‘shroud garden’ was an artistic response to the distressing news of yet another pest and disease affecting our trees.  Playing with the idea of ‘shrouds’, cocoons, spiders webs and the silken webbing nest so characteristic of OPM I wanted to shroud  oak trees in textiles to symbolise the problems caused by the pest.

The garden is generously sponsored by The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages 11,000 acres of historic and natural Open Space for public recreation and health. The City of London recognises the importance of reducing the impact of tree diseases and is supporting the Forestry Commission and other local authorities across London to manage OPM.

Images: RHS Sarah Cuttle, Forestry Commission,  Gristwood & Toms, Kew Gardens

Plant list:

Quercus robur (English oak)

Carpinus betulus (hornbeam)

Ajuga Purple Torch

Alchemilla mollis

Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’

Aquilegia ‘Ruby Port’

Astrantia ‘Super star’

Digitalis  purpurea

Digitalis purpurea f. Albiflora

Geranium phaeum ‘Album’

Geranium phaeum ‘Alec’s Pink’

Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’

Lychnis flos-cuculi ‘White Robin’

Viola cornuta Alba Group

Viola labradorica var purpurea


Polystichum setiferum

Asplenium scolopendrium


Briza Golden Bee

Luzula nivea