It feels like everyone is talking about self-care these days, and yet something that is often omitted from these conversations is gardening; the transformative power of plants. As landscape architect Marcus Barnett says: “Living and working in nature is a very rewarding, soul-feeding experience.” Gardens, he says, are an antidote to the noise and traffic of modern life, slowing us down and reconnecting us with the world we inhabit.
Last month, thousands of gardeners and garden-loves descended on Royal Hospital Chelsea for the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where Barnett has exhibited five times. Originally in the army, Barnett applied to show at Chelsea while he was still at college (Inchbald School of Design in south-west London) and ended up exhibiting just after he’d left. His show garden went on to win a gold medal and Best in Category–an astounding feat, particularly for a first-timer.
“While in the army, the desire to get into landscape architecture–excuse the pun–took root and wouldn’t leave me,” he says of his decision to enter the world of horticulture. “I tried to ignore it but a voice kept sounding off in my head and it just got louder. Eventually it got so loud that I couldn’t ignore it anymore, so I gave in and went to study landscape design and the rest is history.”
Since that first, fateful showing at Chelsea, Barnett and his team of 12 have designed gardens around the world, for an illustrious list of clients—including The Standard. In the wake of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Barnett tells us about his experience of the event, his highlight from this year’s show, and more on the power of plants.