The Chelsea Flower Show

As most of you will be aware, The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is an annual event held for five days in May. 

This year we were honoured to be involved in creating a show-stopping ice sculpture. The Plantman’s ‘Ice Garden’ was designed by John Warland and carefully sculpted by our Hamilton team. This sculpture was one of our biggest challenges to date but was also one of the most rewarding. 

Using 120 blocks of ice fused together, our team created a giant 15-tonne ice cube that was placed at the last minute on the Royal Hospital Chelsea grounds. 

Over the next 24 hours, the sculpture was carefully framed by a stunning selection of silver birches, blue urus siberica and white flowers of brunnera macrophylla. Our creation was then left to gradually melt throughout the full four days and four nights of the show and dramatically changed in appearance during this time. 

When the show opened, the ice was clear, but as it melted, cracks appeared, and water dripped down the sides into the soil. 

Some visitors could even hear the ice cracking as it vanished before their eyes, revealing a secret hole filled with plants, namely the Silene tatarica. This plant was chosen for its similarity to the Silene stenophylla seeds found in melting Siberian permafrost dating back 30,000 years. 

Since the 1990s, 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the earth, including permafrost, which, as it melts, releases carbon into the atmosphere. When researchers first found these ancient seeds in the ice, it inspired and alerted designer John Warland to the impact of global warming. 

The idea behind The Plantman’s ‘Ice Garden’ was to remind visitors of our ever-changing climate and earth’s fragility through the ethereal nature of ice. However, at the same time, there is a positive message that allows us to celebrate the new botanical discoveries found in the ice and the chance to move towards a more sustainable future.

We were honoured to be a part of this prestigious annual event to spread such an important and impactful message. Working with ice for more than 25 years, we have learned to understand, appreciate and respect this natural material and recognise the importance of sustainability. 

We hope that our work, in collaboration with the amazing vision of John Warland, has helped to make a real impression on the hearts and minds of the public, helping them to see the beauty of nature but also the fragility of our world.