The growing use of metal in our gardens, where functionality, aesthetics and symbolism fuse

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The growing use of metal in our gardens, where functionality, aesthetics and symbolism fuse

With the close of another successful Chelsea Flower Show last month, LCR were excited to see so many sculptural forms made out of metal displayed in the exhibits.

“Metal work is a central feature this year with bold shapes amongst planting adding instant impact to the overall design.”[1]

For us metal enthusiasts it really stimulated the creative juices. As we strolled around the gardens enjoying the colours, textures, contrasts and diversity of metals within each space we began to see each form not only as a visual backdrop but as a symbolic motif presenting a deeper individual focus.


Where metal becomes more than simple form

The Spirit of Cornwall Garden

Throughout Stuart Towners garden we saw what first appeared as galvanised intersecting steel panels or platforms, which acted as walkways, covers and pergolas. The clever fabrication of simple flat bar into these panels were transformed into pleasing architectural features. They stood in contrast to the subtropical plants, the sculptures and water features. However, on further understanding the traversing bars and long spines on the panels were designed to reflect the sound wave pattern of music composed by Leo Geyer. The crescendo being met at the gardens pavilion, meant as a space for composing and performing. The simplicity of form and fabrication was therefore translated on a higher level, giving not only form to the gardens interpretation but added significance and symbolism.


The Seedlip Garden

This garden is a clear celebration of the simple garden pea. The spherical shapes are clearly visible within the bright green pavilion and represented throughout. The metal sheeted stepping stones leading to the pavilion were also round in shape, made from polished steel and laser cut into repeating pea pod shapes. The polished steel was used again to make the small round obelisks housing sweetpeas. Once again laser cut with differing sized circles to showcase the pea. All elements simply yet beautifully executed and steeped in representation.


The David Harber and Savills Garden

This garden is layered with symbolism used to tell a story of man’s evolution through time and His evolving relationship with the natural environment.  The large rusted, wave-like metal screens are a pivotal element in that story. The screens have been cut, bent and shaped into form from perforated metal sheet, to create fluid almost transient structures. They also provide a centralising focal point to the narrative when viewed from the front, to present a passage through time, a worm hole to be precise. The sculpture being both the beginning and end of the universe. Metal plays only one part in this garden, not to mention the sculptures, planting and seating, but what a part to play. A modest material yet personifying something so extensive.



We all know that steel in all its forms is durable and strong, long-lasting, most usually maintenance free and easy to shape and install. It can also be decorative, visual, emblematic and highly evocative. When seen within the scope of Chelsea Flower Show as an aesthetic sculptural form, almost as a representative tool to allow the narrative to shine through, visitors may see these forms as unfeasible in their own gardens. That is not the case. They are dramatic yes, bold yes…but all simple. When designed and created properly these sculptures can captivate and transform any surrounding and at a smaller price than you would think. Most pieces are flats fabricated together or sheet metal bended and cut into shape. Granted the scale will affect the cost but if you were looking for something simple but dramatic for your garden it is very, very achievable. We at LCR would be more than happy to help achieve that possibility.





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