Ahead of this year's exciting Chelsea Flower Show 2013, Sweden’s king of garden design, Ulf Nordfjell, talks to us about his forthcoming design for the show that's in its centenary year, and tells us how his Scandinavian roots have influenced his amazing design style.
If you love your clean, modern Scandinavian-style interiors, you’ll adore the work of celebrated Swedish garden designer, Ulf Nordfjell. Currently in the throes of creating the Laurent Perrier Garden for the 2013 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, now just a week away, Ulf’s last show garden in 2009 scooped the premier award for Best in Show, and he’s hoping to match it this year with a stunning fusion of French and Swedish styles.
As well as the many prizes he’s picked up for his sublime contemporary gardens back home in Sweden, Ulf has also created a stunning collection of outdoor furniture and features. So, what inspires this Nordic style icon, and has he any secret tips to offer us mere mortals for our own gardens?
You last wowed us with your designs at Chelsea in 2009 when you won Best in Show for your Daily Telegraph Garden. Why the long absence and what made you want to return this year for Laurent-Perrier?
I have been asked since 2009, but hadn't really found the motivation until now. I was originally approached by Laurent-Perrier two years ago to design the 2013 Laurent-Perrier Garden and was very flattered. Now I can't wait to see the completed garden.
The images of your garden for 2013 look amazing? What were the inspirations for the new design?
The Laurent-Perrier garden pays tribute to Ulla Molin from Sweden and Nicole de Vesian from France; two very inspirational ladies who dominated garden design ideas in the 1980s. Both used local materials, and pruned trees and bushes to form living sculptures in a white, grey and purple colour schemes to create their beautiful gardens. They were also renowned for modernising horticulture in their respective regions.
Do you have any tips that would help us achieve the modern designs you’re famous for?
Always begin with the structure of the garden, and make a list of the plants you want to use. It's always best to pick a few plants that give the garden character across the seasons, using the whole spectrum of annuals, bulbs, shrubs and trees to create different layers. This will create an interesting garden, and reflect your specific interests and tastes.
Scandinavian interior designs are popular here in the UK. How does your Swedish heritage influence your garden designs?
The introduction of modernism in the 1950s was the starting point for modern design today, and Ulla Molin was one of the first to introduce a spare, clean Danish style in gardening, which has been always been my inspiration.
I have been in design all my life, firstly in ceramics and now as landscape architect and designer of my own collection of furniture and features for both interiors and gardens. All of my designs are simple in form and use Swedish steel, timber and granite.
Your gardens in Sweden look very naturalistic. How do you achieve this?
While my gardens are not actually naturalistic, I create the feeling of nature by incorporating different sections with different levels of design. For example, using the theme of a meadow in one section gives the whole garden this atmosphere, even if other areas incorporate hard landscaping and minimal concepts. The beauty of a meadow is hard to compete with!
Please note: Tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show are now sold out, but you can still book up for Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and Tatton Park Flower Show over on the RHS website.
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Zia Allaway, Garden Expert
View all posts by Zia Allaway, Garden Expert