At the Chelsea Flower Show 2014, the Gold medal winning Daily Telegraph Garden designed by Italian Tomasso del Buono and his American partner Paul Gazerwitz was inspired by both English and Italian gardens.
This is an Italian garden for the modern era, featuring some of the guiding principles of Italy’s great historical tradition re-interpreted in a 21st century idiom.
Inspiration has been taken from revisiting the components traditionally found in the great historical Italian gardens to create this bold and uncompromising modern garden, a peaceful and beautiful environment designed for rest and relaxation.
A series of topiary, including Buxus, some Phillyrea and umbrella-shaped Tillia give the garden a backbone that is softened by perennials in shades of chartreuse and blue
Designed by Tommaso del Buono & Paul Gazerwitz (del Buono Gazerwitz)
Built by Crocus.co.uk
Sponsored by The Daily Telegraph ( UK )
NB watch this beautiful video below in full screen
It will be a green garden, “reinterpreting traditional Italian elements” says Tommaso, “with a strong axis line, controlled shapes, pots, roof-trained trees, and a modern version of a grotto in the form of a water wall.”
Inspiration for the garden has come from revisiting the components traditionally found in celebrated historical Italian gardens, to create a bold and uncompromising modern garden.
All the plants in the garden are both appropriate and suitable for the conditions typically found in the north of Italy, a climate very similar to Britain.
The garden is enclosed on two sides by a bay hedge (Laurus nobilis) and shaded at both ends by the canopy of 12 roof-trained lime trees.
The sunken lawn at the heart of the garden will be punctuated by domes of clipped box and Osmanthus x burkwoodii.
The formality is softened by a range of herbaceous plants in deep blues and lime green with a touch of deep pink.
Modernist touches include stylish Knoll outdoor Bertoia furniture and a dramatic, glittering wall of water at one end of the garden, to calm the hubbub of the show.
Tilia x europaea ‘Pallida’
Osmanthus x burkwoodii
Anchusa azurea ‘Loddon Royalist’
Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’
Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
Geranium himalayense ‘Gravetye’
Iris germanica ‘Blue Rhythm’
Iris germanica ‘Jane Philips’
Lithodora diffusa ‘Heavenly Blue’
Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll’
Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’
Viola cornuta ‘Belmont Blue’
Influences on del Buono Gazerwitz for the Telegraph Garden
The people, places and objects that have most influenced del Buono and Gazerwitz during their careers – and some of which have had a direct bearing on their design for Chelsea.
The Boboli Gardens, Florence
“I grew up in Florence and used to go to the school opposite the Boboli Gardens. We were taken there mid-morning every day to do PE,” Tommaso says. “In those days Boboli was very run-down and there was graffiti everywhere. I guess at the time I did not appreciate what an amazing setting it was, but it obviously made its mark.”
For Tommaso, it is the variety built into the great Baroque garden’s theatricality that has been an influence throughout his career – some spaces are quite spectacular while others are much quieter. But each episode has its own clear identity, whether it’s a big lawn circled by giant plane trees, an oval citrus garden surrounded by ornate railings that cast shadows on the gravel, or an avenue of majestic cypress.
“I love the way there is no compromise at Boboli,” Tommaso says. “The way each garden space is based on a very strong idea that is followed all the way through. Each garden has a function and a theme. This has been very influential on the way I think.”
“I have always been in awe of how radical the design of this structure must have been when it was built,” Paul says. “It was nothing like anything that had been designed before and stands in stark contrast to the surrounding buildings that were built for the same exposition in 1929.”
Architect Mies van der Rohe wanted the pavilion to be “an ideal zone of tranquillity” for the weary visitor. It is not a building in the traditional sense but a structure that captures and forms space with a gridded floor plan juxtaposed with a series of offset vertical planes. This arrangement blurs the boundaries between inside and outside, creating an abstracted arrangement with no clear point of entry and exit.
“I am particularly fond of the use of luxurious materials such as the travertine and green marble and polished steel that adorn the spaces without the need for any other decoration,” Paul explains. “It really feels like a garden pavilion. In our Chelsea garden we have tried to create a sense of it by means of the roof-trained lime trees, which will create a sensation of this roof – it will be a bit like a green version.”
“There has been a huge David Hicks revival in recent years, his Seventies interiors having suddenly been rediscovered and appreciated,” Tommaso says.
“I do like the interiors – the use of colour and strong graphic patterns – but his book My Kind of Garden has been very influential and I regularly return to it.”
Hicks was a designer who might be described as “quintessentially British”, but Tommaso appreciates the way he blended English wit and romanticism with a sure feel for spatial design.
“At Hicks’s own garden in Oxfordshire, I love the way he combined a strong architectural structure with a layer of much softer plantings, and also alternated light and shade. There is a link here with our Chelsea garden, where we are trying to build in similar contrasts. In a garden it is important to create spaces which are restful, slick and peaceful, as well as those which are full of texture and colour, which will grab the attention.”
Knoll Harry Bertoia outdoor furniture (1952)
Paul says: “In the outdoor sculpture garden at the university art museum where I studied landscape architecture, was a bronze sound sculpture that would emit haunting pings and bongs depending on the speed and direction of the wind. I found it delightful how nature could be harnessed to create music.
“This sculpture was created by Harry Bertoia, who also designed the Knoll furniture that we are using in our Chelsea garden.”
Bertoia was born in Italy and emigrated to America when he was 15. He trained as an artist and sculptor and was later asked by Florence Knoll to design furniture for the company she had set up with her husband. The delicately industrial Bertoia side chairs used in the garden take the form of a welded wire grid moulded to suit the human form. Bertoia said, “If you look at these chairs, they are mainly made of air, like sculpture. Space passes right through them.”
“A perfect fusion of art and function,” is how Paul describes them. “These chairs have a timelessness that is very inspiring.”
One of the Baroque masterpieces of André Le Nôtre (the designer of Versailles), Tommaso says he loves this example of his work because it is not beset by the atmosphere of sterility that can sometimes afflict formal gardens. “Courances proves how a formal, structured layout does not necessarily result in a rigid, sterile garden,” he says. “This is one of the most romantic gardens I have ever seen.”
Tommaso points out that Courances is one of the smallest gardens Le Nôtre created. “It is a bit of a revelation… For example, the hedges have been allowed to grow up into different shapes, the stonework is mossy and slightly falling apart, and the statues are covered in greenery and lichen. You forget that the garden is arranged around a formal layout – it is charming and very gentle. It reminds you that layout is important but is not everything.”
For Tommaso a formal design – whether it’s baroque or modernist – can also be imbued with a strong intimate tone, which is something he and Paul are aiming to create at Chelsea.
Paley Park, New York
The most celebrated “pocket park” in the world, Paley Park was designed by Zion & Breen in 1967 in a vacant lot in the heart of Manhattan.
“I was born and educated in New York,” Paul says, “and Paley Park featured heavily in my studies of landscape architecture. The thing that is particularly striking about the space is how small it is but yet perfectly formed. It is the distillation of a larger landscape – nature perfectly encapsulated in the middle of a concrete jungle. I particularly like the simplicity of the spatial arrangement – a grid of honey locust trees forming a light and feathery canopy, ivy-clad flank walls that are like vertical lawns and an uncompromising wall of water at the back that drowns out the noise of the city around you. You hear the water before you even see the park.”
Paul says there is a direct link between Paley Park and the Chelsea garden in that the water wall idea has inspired a similar feature. “It’s not meant exactly to drown out the noise of Chelsea,” Paul explains. “But it can be quite loud there – and this garden is going to be peaceful.”
The great Italian modernist architect and designer, nearly all of whose work is in Italy (especially around Venice and the Veneto), is best known for his exciting reworkings of historic buildings and their associated landscapes. “Scarpa was a master at handling materials, some of which are not necessarily associated with each other,”….. Tommaso said.
“The Fondazione Querini-Stampalia [in Venice] is a beautiful example of how he used stone, metal, brick, glass and wood. It’s a very careful study, a masterclass in how to put them together with delicacy. And it somehow looks effortless.” The museum is also a good example of the way Scarpa habitually conceived of building and landscape as one, making no discrimination between them in terms of his approach to design and materials.
Scarpa’s best-known landscape work is the Brion Cemetery, a family tomb set on the edge of a village near Treviso. “I find this project inspirational for the use of materials, including water,” Tommaso says. “I admire Scarpa most for his expert handling of materials and for his ability to borrow from history and tradition to create something new and modern. This has been an inspiration for our own work.”
English Edwardian gardens
“Twenty five years ago I came to England for a short stay – and I never left,” Paul says. “When I first arrived I spent almost every weekend visiting gardens. I know it sounds clichéd, but Hidcote and Sissinghurst were a revelation. And I loved the topiary and hedge structure at gardens like Athelhampton.
“I love the way these gardens combine a strong evergreen and architectural structure with a much softer, frothy layer of colour and textures,” he says.
“These Edwardian gardens are a great reference and starting point for so much of what has happened since – including our own work.”
About del Buono Gazerwitz Landscape Architecture
Founded in 2000 as a partnership, del Buono Gazerwitz has grown into an established, busy practice of six talented landscape architects currently working on some of Britain and Europe’s most prestigious gardens and estates.
With a current portfolio of projects in London, the English countryside, France, Switzerland and Tuscany and previous work in locations as varied as Greece, Luxembourg, the United States and the Caribbean, del Buono Gazerwitz has cemented its reputation as a design team sensitive to the landscapes, materials and people it works with.
“We try and approach each new commission with a fresh eye and mind… every project is different, the creative process starting with an instinctive response to the site and the understanding of our clients’ requirements and lifestyle.
We like to think we don’t have a fixed style but favour clean lines, playing with scale and proportions, beautiful materials, unfussy detailing and giving our gardens a strong structure to support more, softer planting. When possible, we like designing bespoke furniture, gates and containers.
Our work has taken us to many different and interesting parts of the world; we enjoy working for different individuals and in such varied conditions and environments and intend to continue to do so – new places, new people and challenges excite and stimulate us.”
The practice made its name specialising in the creation of beautiful private gardens, but has also undertaken projects in the commercial sector completing a garden for ‘The Greenhouse’ restaurant in London’s Mayfair and a number of semi-public open spaces working for leading property developers such as Derwent London.
Over the years del Buono Gazerwitz have taken part in several competitions and were shortlisted in 2001 by English Heritage for their ‘Contemporary Heritage Gardens’ Competition and in 2002 by the Royal Parks Commission for the Princess Diana Memorial Garden in Hyde Park, London.
2008 saw the creation of their first show Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show; ‘Summer Solstice’ for sponsor Daylesford Organic was awarded a Sliver Gilt Medal and has since been rebuilt at the Daylesford headquarters in Gloucestershire.
In 2010 one of their gardens was the recipient of a prestigious BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) Awards.
Of Italian birth, Tommaso del Buono, CMLI MSGD, left his native Florence in the 80’s to study at the University of Greenwich.
After completing his studies in 1987 he worked in London for different practices and, after a 3 year stint at Michael Hopkins and Partners, he joined Arabella Lennox-Boyd’s practice where, in the course of a 10 year long collaboration, he was involved in a wide range of projects both in the UK and abroad.
As a garden writer, Tommaso was a regular contributor to ‘Space’, a design and property supplement of the Guardian newspaper, has written for other publications including ‘Gardens Illustrated’ and currently sits on the editorial board of the Garden Design Journal.
Paul Gazerwitz, CMLI MSGD, studied Landscape Architecture at Cornell University in New York and started his career working in his native USA.
After moving to London in 1989, Paul worked for several, award winning practices in the commercial sector, becoming involved in the creation of many large public open spaces and mixed use developments.
An experienced plantsman, Paul also joined Arabella Lennox-Boyd’ office in the late 1990’s prior to setting up the practice with Tommaso in 2000.
During the last 15 years Paul has, in his spare time, developed a keen interest in the history of Architecture successfully completing the restoration of two Georgian houses in London’s Spitalfields