60° East: A Garden Between Continents, sponsored by Bodmin Jail Hotel, is a Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Show Garden created by two designers, one based in Russia and one in the UK. The original idea came from Ekaterina Zasukhina, who lives and works in the city of Yekaterinburg – a metropolis at the foot of the Ural Mountains, on the border between Europe and Asia.
Ekaterina wanted to use this setting as the inspiration for a garden that celebrates the beauty of the local landscape. To help bring this dream to life, she enlisted London-based landscape architect Carly Kershaw, a director of the firm Hyland Edgar Driver, to help bring it into being on the ground at the show this September.
“The idea is that it is a garden for the public,” explains Carly, in an interview with Country Living, ahead of the countdown to the autumn show, “for all the hard-working, weary city dwellers, to uplift their spirits, and remind them of the mountains nearby. It is essentially a place where people can come to ease their minds, and be reminded about nature.”
The Ural Mountains run north to south at 60 degrees latitude – hence the garden’s name – and sit between two continents. “This is a place where lots of people have come together over history – it was on the Silk Road. I was meant to go out and see the mountains and the city,” Carly continues, “and I was really looking forward to seeing it all, but sadly then covid hit, so instead Ekaterina sent me drone footage of her gardens in Yekaterinburg, and the city, and footage of the mountains so that I could get a flavour of it.”
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Although it is a naturalistic, landscape-based composition which evokes the peaks, forests, rivers and slopes of the mountains, Carly insists it is designed to be a garden – a green jewel in the heart of the city. The dominant elements are stacked and tumbled rocks that sweep up the slope towards the back of the space, and a large invigorating waterfall that gushes into a pool. From here, a stream cascades down through the garden, which also features large cloud-pruned pines and mixed perennial planting.
“You enter the garden and can take a clockwise journey up into the garden via some big rock steps,” Carly tells Country Living. “The rock is a lovely shining mica quartzite green, and was brought from the Ural Mountains, so everyone can enjoy a real feel of what it’s like. Beyond the steps, there is a multi-stem crabapple tree, and a backdrop of stone pines and acer hedging across the back of the garden. Towards the front of the garden, there’s a big willow tree with a stone bench underneath, where you can sit and look out over the pool, and there will be birdsong of the Ural Mountains playing in the background.”
stacked and tumbled rocks
large waterfall flowing into a pool
cloud-pruned pines and mixed perennial planting
multi-stem crabapple tree
a big willow tree with a stone bench underneath
birdsong playing in the background
plants that thrive in the cold, including chamomile and alpine strawberries
lively and colourful planting palette
three sculptures by artist Penny Hardy
a bridge engraved with a quote
Winter temperatures drop as low as -20°C in Yekaterinburg, so the garden will feature plants that can withstand this – some of which may be surprisingly familiar to those in the UK, such as chamomile and alpine strawberries.
“The garden’s planting palette borrows a lot from East and West, and it’s quite lively and colourful,” says Carly. As well as water mint and Carex by the water, she has specified bright magenta-flowered Lythrum salicaria. “It is a very common plant in and around the rivers in the region, and we are hoping it will be in flower for the show.”
Other choices for September include pink Japanese anemones, Persicaria and Astilbe – “These umbellifers and tall spire plants will hopefully give a loose, relaxed element to contrast with all the heavy rock.”
The garden will also feature several crafted elements, including three figurative pieces by artist Penny Hardy, who makes sculptures out of manmade materials. “The sculptures are of a man, a woman and a child, which are made out of rusting metal parts, including pieces of machinery from places around the Ural Mountains. They are quite beautiful and wistful, and look like they are blowing away. They really set off the greens, blues and pinks of the planting.”
There is also a bridge engraved with a quote that references the core message behind the garden. “It’s about the passing of the generations, and the fact that that we are transitory. We all come and go through the world, and it’s easy to forget about nature and the bigger picture – but the Earth remains forever.”
How will Chelsea be different in autumn as opposed to spring?
Carly is looking forward to getting on to the show ground and beginning to construct the garden, but admits, “I haven’t done Chelsea before, so I am worried about everything! I think I am most concerned about the water feature. Everything has got to be at the right level, and we want to have that invigorating, tumbling water, but not too much – the balance has to be just right.”
The other thing weighing on her mind is creating the garden so late in the season, after the show was postponed from its original May date to late in September. “It’s tricky. We had planned a huge swathe of irises, which isn’t going to happen now, so we are looking at other things that people use in their gardens in Yekaterinberg.”
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