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'Metamorphosis - a design journey' was the theme of a garden design competition set by the RHS and Chelsea-award winning designer Cleve West. As well as the theme, a set list of materials to build the garden with was stipulated to make the competition even more challenging for designers. Individual personality could only be crafted through interpretation, imagination and freedom to specify the smaller perennial plantings.

Sharon's interpretation looked at a literal translation of the 'garden design journey' and focused on contrasting the first sketchy ideas of a design to the final fully-formed, landscaped garden.

The 'Sketch' side used raw materials in unconventional ways to create the feeling of something sketched, unfinished, still forming and taking shape. Untreated steel sheets were used as a main feature to a section of the boundary wall, washed down Type 1 MOT under steel mesh supported by a timber frame was used to create an offset pathway and one of the specified ivy panels was used lying down as a block section of groundcover.

A galvanised wire sculpture set in a square block of concrete was created with the help of community artist Joy Ladds [based in Ramsbottom, Bury] to represent ideas metamorphosing from scribbles into a more unified, tangible form at the centre. The sculpture was inspired by the work of British sculptor Antony Gormley, in particular his sketch-like wire installations and bold work in concrete.

Planting on the 'Sketch' side was purely textural, with no flowers but simple contrasting leaf shapes and colours, used in chunky groups to form vague blocks. Geometric structural planting was also a key feature in the 'Sketch' side. All specified on the list of materials, a large box cube enclosed by a square clipped yew hedge provided boldness, this shape was reflected in the concrete cube of the wire sculpture. These bold structural elements gave the garden strong forms that contrasted with the softer plantings in the 'Reality' side.

The finished landscaped garden is represented in the 'Reality' side by switching materials back to their conventional uses. Ivy panels are reverted back to their conventional upright position, the specified Bradstone paving was used traditionally to make the real pathway and a sunken patio area. The boundary reverts from steel sheets to a glowing double clad timber plank fence structure.

Light played an important role in the real side of the garden too as the fence was designed to allow sunlight to filter through and create shadows. A radiating steel tube canopy was also devised to play with this idea of light and shadow; as well as offering a structural feature to balance the space. Another, admittedly unexpected light bonus, was the scribble shadows cast from the wire sculpture onto the top of the concrete cube. Even in the rain the sculpture, steel tube canopy and fencing took on an unexpected dazzle.

The real garden became a much livelier space with richer colour scheme, movement through water and planting with finer details, contrasting flowering perennials and billowy grasses.

For more pictures click on the arrows on the main frame image.