Caravan is unsual centrepiece of garden by Jo Thompson

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The summer sun arrived in time for the Chelsea Flower Show, and the Kent gardens at the annual event have been drawing the crowds.

Of the 30 or so gardens at the popular event, there are four from Kent exhibitors. The best known of these is the Celebration of Caravanning by Jo Thompson.

And the centrepiece could not be further away from being a flower. As you might expect from the title, it’s actually a caravan salvaged from sure disaster by Jo who had it fully restored and placed at the heart of her garden design.

The Caravan Club has sponsored the garden and it has attracting hoards of curious visitors.

The 1950s silver classic has been named Doris and is designed to show how a caravan can be part of a garden as a summerhouse or playhouse as well as a great, affordable way to holiday.

Ms Thompson, from Marden, said surrounding it is a palette of pink and cream planting including salvias and irises, as well as Wealden sandstone paths and timber walkways over running water that will convey the delights of a touring holiday at home. Blowsy roses of early summer and masses of cow parsley will nostalgically evoke country lanes and classic English country gardens.

Also attracting the crowds is John Warland’s World Vision Garden. Mr Warland, from Tonbridge said his inspiration for the constant ripple pool at the centre represents the constant work done by the World Vision charity to help children around the world.

The Global Stone garden is by Benjamin Wincott sourced all its plants from Dartford. Called Petra – Tranquillity Set in Stone, it is inspired by Capability Brown, with a 21st-century twist.

Mr Wincott said it is designed as a garden in its most natural form, and re-creates woodland, coppice and wildflower meadow environments.

Brookfield Plants, from Ashford is showing off its hostas in the Great Pavilion, including new and British raised varieties. Utilising materials collected from the owner’s garden nursery and the surrounding area, they have created an ecologically sustainable display made up of plants and materials that are either freely available or can be grown without any special conditions. Paul Harris said he hopes it will inspire visitors to recreate similar displays in their gardens at home.

The award-winning garden designer and broadcaster Andy Sturgeon has created a garden inspired by Arts and Crafts houses and gardens, including Sissinghurst Castle, and William’s Morris’ Red House in Bexleyheath.

And Tom Hart Dyke, creator of the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle near Sevenoaks, has been filming at the show for the BBC.

He said: “It has been simply awesome filming in the Great Pavilion.

What an atmosphere! The world of plants has come to Chelsea. The huge array of plants really excites me.

“I ran into Alan Titchmarsh, as you do, who said it was nice to see me again and that I must look at the new variety of Aloe. I kept asking myself, ‘is this happening?’

“Before shooting they did the usual make-up routine, putting lots of powder on my face but spent almost as long ensuring my balding head was covered too.”



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