• 'Breaking Ground'
    A 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show show garden
  • Sponsored by Darwin Property
    In support of Wellington College

Breaking Ground Plant List


Wellington College, one of the world’s leading co-educational independent schools, returns to the celebrated RHS Chelsea Flower Show with its second garden, ‘Breaking Ground’.  The garden, which is sponsored by Darwin Property Investment Management, has been designed by Wilson McWilliam Studio to highlight the College's ambitions to break down the barriers to a life-changing education by making it possible for more young people to attend the College regardless of their financial situation.


Sponsored by the boutique investment manager, Darwin Property Investment Management Limited (Darwin), a passionate supporter of this progressive vision, the 2017 garden also marks Darwin’s wide-ranging commitment to raising awareness and funds for the new programme and its broader support for young talent in the business community.

The design of Breaking Ground is inspired by the bold ambition for a new bursary campaign at Wellington College, that will offer life-changing bursaries for young people with talent and promise who would otherwise be unable to access the quality of education and opportunities presented by attending the College.

 The concept that the walls that once enclosed the public school community will become irrelevant lies at the heart of the garden.  The garden design also references the synaptic activity governing our thought process – triggering cognitive connections and responses, facilitating the formation of ideas and concepts. The garden is inspired by the structure and nature of our neurone activity – water, one of the basic elements that makes these processes possible, runs through the hard and soft elements.




The garden pays homage to the inauspicious environment of sandy heathland with communities of grasses, sedges, birch and pine dotted with native perennials or shrubs that became home to the College.  The garden highlights the plight of this habitat which is one of the most threatened in the world: more than 80% of lowland heaths have been destroyed since the 19th century.

As the garden gives way to colourful and textured perennials in an ornamental meadow, the pattern of neuron cells runs through mossy gravel between the planting groups, creating a parterre like effect, slightly sunken below the show ground level. Several species here will be chosen for their explosive flower or stem structure whilst rare species of violet and occasional orchids populate the sward..

Majestic, aged hawthorn trees in the ornamental garden are selected for their individuality and special quality - another nod to the educational philosophy of the College.

A central feature of the garden is the series of monumental ‘disappearing’ walls. The 4m high structures express the concept of the disappearing walls of private education – allowing students to access a Wellington education based on their ability rather than their financial circumstances.

The walls are created in thin metal rods, welded together.  Perspective and the form of construction will combine to create areas of structural density contrasted with openness and transparency.


At the rear of the garden, the boundary wall features a graphic interpretation of the synapse, where the thoughts for the future of over 200 students from the family of Wellington schools in the UK and in China have handwritten personal messages about their visions for the future, which have been etched into the wall in an explosive, wave-like manner.

The heathland planting overhangs a still and reflective deck level pool. The human brain is substantially made up of water which here creates a connection Into the developing garden.  Fragmented, large scale paving overhangs the reflecting pool but picks up the pattern of neuron cells connecting across the garden.

The synapse pattern which runs throughout the garden


The Garden

Royal Visit and Press Day

Photographs courtesy of Charlie Hopkinson and Gavin McWilliam



Wellington College was established in 1853 as the nation’s memorial to the Duke of Wellington. The College, located in Berkshire, builds on the honourable legacy of the ‘greatest Englishman that ever lived’ by combining the best traditions and values of the past with the energy and ambition of the present.


Wellington College is completely committed to providing children with an inspiring academic experience which is pupil-centred and stimulating. The College has adopted a pioneering, global and independent approach to what they teach and its excellent staff are recruited for their passion, their enthusiasm and their imagination in communicating with children to ensure that every single child in their classes is engaged, excited and challenged by the learning experience at all times. This has led to outstanding results for pupils, which have propelled Wellington to the top of the co-educational boarding schools in Britain, and has led to Wellington College being appointed by the government as a lead “Teaching School”.


Simultaneously, Wellington College is deeply committed to opening the hearts and minds of its young people in every way. Its highly regarded well-being programme and unique approach to education ensures that the College develops the whole person – focusing specifically on the individual needs, strengths and talents of each and every pupil.  The College ensures that its outstanding extra-curricular provision, including sports, arts, clubs and societies, CCF, leadership and challenge activities, all add up to an holistic education.


Wellington College's full bursary programme offers life-changing 100% bursaries for talented and well-deserving students who otherwise might be unable to access the quality of education and opportunities presented by attending the College.  There is a bold ambition to greatly expand the bursary fund and to fulfill a broader vision to provide an inspiring education for as many and diverse a student body as possible through the College’s network of schools.


Wellington College has been able to extend its inclusive approach to education further through the sponsorship of Wellington Academy in Wiltshire, which opened in 2009.   The influence of the College has meant that this previously failing comprehensive school now offers an outstanding education to local pupils, the majority of whom are children of parents serving at the nearby military garrison.  The Academy is able to offer a stable education environment, including boarding facilities, to military families as well as to vulnerable learners in the care of the local authority.  The Academy is now supported by the Wellington Primary Academy, which opened in 2014.  Beyond the UK, Wellington College has opened three schools in China with the aim of imparting the best elements of a British education, whilst taking into account the cultural norms and regional realities of the schools’ locations.



Wilson McWilliam Studio is one of the UK’s leading garden design practices. Led by qualified Landscape Architects, Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam, the team design imaginative and uplifting bespoke gardens and public landscapes. Their carefully tailored designs feature sharply detailed construction, elegant spaces and inspirational planting, informing each design scheme. The award-winning London-based studio works across the South East and internationally at both domestic and commercial scale. This is the fourth year that Andrew and Gavin have designed a RHS Chelsea Show Garden, having previously won three Silver Gilt medals for their gardens with Cloudy Bay as well as the Living Legacy Garden.




Andrew and Gavin both trained as landscape architects but share a passion for garden design and experimentation with materials and plant associations.

Andrew is a Fellow and former Chairman of the Society of Garden Designers and spent over 12 years assessing and judging RHS Show Gardens.  Andrew is also a well-­‐known garden writer and is the founding editor of The Garden Design Journal.

Gavin originally studied Fine art and brings a conceptual and artistic ethos to the commissions they undertake, having spent time as a Graphic Designer and Art Director. He is a Chartered Member of The Landscape Institute.



Darwin Property Investment Management Limited (Darwin Property) is a small independent boutique investment manager.   Darwin Property strives to meet the needs of both institutional and private investors by offering investment solutions that generate long-term absolute returns which enhance capital and provide high levels of income.

Its first investment strategy, the ‘Darwin Leisure Property Fund’, achieves this goal.  The £491m* fund invests in a portfolio of UK Holiday Parks and combines a secure yield that is well in excess of inflation with business strategies that create sustainable shareholder value.  The Darwin Leisure Property Fund has generated an annualised return of 17.1%* over 5 years.

Having started with just one holiday park, the Fund now owns and operates 19 parks and resorts under the ‘Darwin Escapes’ brand and is the fourth largest operator in the UK.

At Darwin, giving means more than writing a cheque. It means giving time, expertise, in-kind benefits and financial support to deliver measurable results to cause areas, qualified beneficiaries and projects important to our business and employees.  Therefore, as well as supporting Wellington College’s scholarship fundraising activity, Darwin’s philanthropic focus is the Wellington Academy, a state school in Wiltshire sponsored by Wellington College.  Additionally, Darwin supports the Momentum Programme, which aims to provide pupils with mentoring, networking opportunities and practical guidance for future career planning.  Through Darwin Escapes, Darwin also offers job training and vocational programmes benefiting disadvantaged young people in the UK.


* as at 31 January 2017


Darwin Escapes offers holiday home ownership and UK holiday breaks at three different categories of holiday park:

Boutiques’, which are a range of superior quality lodge retreats in beautiful coastal or idyllic rural settings

Luxury’, which are large, premium resorts offering a full range of leisure facilities and activities alongside luxurious lodge and caravan accommodation

Traditional’ which offer all the facilities you would expect at a traditional UK holiday park, including leisure facilities, quality lodge and caravan accommodation and entertainment to suit all the family.


Darwin Escapes has transformed the holiday park industry by offering accommodation, facilities and service to rival those of a five star hotel.  Tens of millions of pounds have been invested to completely redevelop a number of parks, with sites transformed from tenting and touring sites to luxury lodge resorts, while more established parks have been upgraded.

Darwin Escapes offers a variety of accommodation styles but each style maintains the Darwin Escapes ethos of going above and beyond in search of quality and experience.  Static caravans are an option available in a number of the parks. However, these are not conventional caravans that you some may remember from childhood, these are Darwin Escapes static caravans which are a step above in terms of size and styling.  Alternatively, Darwin Escapes also offers a range of luxury lodges in varying styles and sizes. These are perfect for city breaks, beach holidays or family vacations.  Some parks also offer log cabin style lodges or more unique beach huts.



The Outdoor Room are experts in building corporate, residential and show gardens of all sizes.  They are passionate about designing, creating and caring for beautiful gardens and landscapes. Their knowledgeable, experienced and creative team offers a professional, comprehensive service to private clients, developers,  garden designers and landscape architects.

The Outdoor Room has a huge depth of knowledge and expertise in every aspect of landscape design, construction and horticulture. All of their projects are professionally managed and all of their teams are made up of directly employed landscapers each headed by a dedicated foreman, all of whom are qualified and experienced in every aspect of landscape construction. This is backed up by managerial support to ensure excellent communication between client, designer, site and office staff.

The Outdoor Room take great pride in the quality of the work they produce, striving for excellence in craftsmanship. This pride in their work extends beyond a project’s completion; they like to remain involved in gardens they have built as they mature, building lasting working relationships with all their clients, be they garden designers, landscape architects or garden owners.

Hortus Loci is a wholesale plant nursery working with landscape architects and garden designers.  They supply a wide range of perennials, shrubs, trees and hedging from their site in North Hampshire, and their highly-experienced team work closely with clients to provide a comprehensive service.

Hortus Loci hand select and grow a huge range of perennials on their 17-acre site.  With highly-experienced staff keeping an eye on current trends, and helping to set them, the range of plants available on the nursery will always be unique and surprising.  Hortus Loci have linked-up with the finest growers in the UK, Europe and beyond to locate the best plants available. They now raise over 85-percent of all the plants they supply, so they can guarantee availability and quality.

As well as their wholesale operation, Hortus Loci also sell to the public through their Whitewater Plant Centre, which has access to over 4,000 varieties of plants, far greater than most garden centres.





The Living Legacy Garden was a 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show show garden which commemorated the Battle of Waterloo and the Duke of Wellington's living memorial, Wellington College.  The garden, also designed by Wilson McWilliam Studio, was awarded a Silver Gilt Medal and has since been rebuilt in the grounds of Wellington College to be enjoyed today and by future generations of students and visitors.


A new sculpture for the garden was designed by Wellington College student Scarlett Irons, who was 13 at the time.

Click on an image below to view photographs of the Living Legacy Garden at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Click on an image below to view photographs of the Living Legacy Garden at Wellington College



For interviews with the designers and further press information on the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show Breaking Ground Garden, sponsored by Darwin Property, and for enquiries about Wellington College, please contact Cultural Communications:


Hannah Mensah-Kane


020 3286 6980





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