Juliet Sargeant: “We’ve obtained to alter the best way we do issues”


Juliet Sargeant’s The Lion King Anniversary Backyard scooped RHS Hampton Court docket’s first Environmental Innovation Award in addition to Finest in Present and a Silver-Gilt medal

‘How am I going to construct a three-metre-high wall with out concrete?’ That’s the query backyard designer Juliet Sargeant was pondering after she submitted the plan for a present backyard at this 12 months’s RHS Hampton Court docket Palace Backyard Pageant. The choice committee had requested if there was something she might use as an alternative of concrete foundations to scale back the carbon footprint of the wall – and so, that’s what she did. 

The Lion King Anniversary Garden The Lion King Anniversary Backyard. Credit score: Alister Thorpe

Consulting a structural engineer, Sargeant and contractor Gardenlink instead used 4 tonnes of water tanks and a towering tree to crush the wall and stop it from falling over – and based on Sargeant, it’s this outside-the-box considering that “clinched” Hampton Court docket’s first Environmental Innovation Award.  

Launched at this 12 months’s RHS Chelsea Flower Present earlier than being dropped at the summer season present, the RHS’ new inexperienced award recognises efforts to make present gardens extra sustainable. Sargeant calls the award itself “a superb innovation”, including that profitable it in its first 12 months feels “great”. 

“The RHS is actually eager for these present gardens to be as sustainable as potential as a result of nowadays you may’t actually justify the form of waste and the carbon footprint that we’ve all been used to only taking without any consideration. We’ve obtained to alter the best way we do issues.” 


The Lion King Anniversary Garden The Lion King Anniversary Backyard. Credit score: Alister Thorpe

Sargeant’s The Lion King Anniversary Backyard – which celebrates 25 years of the West Finish musical – not solely used no cement but additionally no metal. The timber poles have been collected in woodlands for them to be chipped after the present, the timber for the wall will probably be reused by Gardenlink. How Inexperienced Nursery – “a pioneer of peat free” and a small, native nursery to Sargeant – provided many of the crops. The workforce additionally used crushed purple brick, which is a recycled materials but additionally permeable, says Sargeant. “As you go across the present, you see loads of gardens are transferring to permeable paving now.” 


Regardless of profitable the RHS Enviromental Innovation Award in addition to Finest in Present, The Lion King Anniversary Backyard simply missed out on a Gold medal, taking away a Silver-Gilt as an alternative. There have been solely 4 Gold medals dished out at Hampton Court docket this 12 months, and none of them had been within the present backyard class. “It’s powerful,” says Sargeant. “The RHS exhibits are arguably the perfect on the earth, and so they have a extremely excessive commonplace.” 

It’s not all concerning the medals in any case, says Sargeant, who provides the strain – be it from striving for awards or from the sponsor – can result in designers enjoying it too secure. “That’s one thing that I’ve by no means completed, as a result of I see the present as an actual artistic alternative to do one thing completely different, each for myself as a result of I should be focused on it, but additionally for the guests…However you’re taking a threat for those who try this. You are taking a threat with the medals as a result of it might not be understoof or accepted. It’s good to take dangers; however as a designer, it’s important to resolve whether or not you might be doing the present for the medal or for a stunning exhibit or to your personal development as a creator, and I attempt to do the latter – although it’s good to get medals, after all.” 

Thenjiwe Thendiva Nofemele Thenjiwe Thendiva Nofemele performs at RHS Hampton Court docket. Credit score: Craig Sugden

Happily, Disney’s The Lion King proved to be a “actually pretty” sponsor. “Every little thing has been about working collectively and making my life simpler; they haven’t put any strain on me in any respect.” Its exhibit is a neighborhood backyard, which featured dwell performances from the solid on press day. Sargeant’s design aimed to deliver guests by their very own ‘Circle of Life’, a well-known music from the unique movie. 

After 1 / 4 of a century, the West Finish present has been skilled by greater than 19 million individuals. And due to Sargeant, it’s not solely celebrating its 25th anniversary this 12 months but additionally two of the highest awards at Hampton Court docket. Hakuna matata, certainly.