The 2019 Beijing International Horticulture Expo is set to kick off next week. It'll showcase the latest in floriculture and agriculture. Several British landscapers have been invited to design gardens at the event. Award-winning Tom Stuart-Smith is one of them and he has created a special exhibit based on China's Belt and Road Initiative. Juliet Mann caught up with the designer at his home, just outside London, to see what inspires him.
JULIET MANN HERTFORDSHIRE "This is gardening on a grand scale. With enriched meadows, woodland and plenty of inspiration for landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, who uses his backyard as a test bed for his work."
TOM STUART-SMITH GARDEN DESIGNER "It is a very English garden, so it does have this pattern of hedged enclosure, the planting is not so much a traditional English thing which is to do with growing individual plants to the highest possible standard, it's much more to do with creating communities of plants in a much more ecological way, plantings that have a greater degree of sustainability and yet have beauty and interest the whole year round. These lilies, they have an amazing pungent smell, and they get, they get to about this kind of high and flower in August and they are of Chinese parentage."
Tom Stuart-Smith is bringing his natural vision to China. Along with his team, he has designed a show piece for the Beijing Horticulture Expo exploring the Chinese government's major infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative.
TOM STUART-SMITH GARDEN DESIGNER "The big inspiration for Beijing comes from China, and the idea of the One Belt, One Road, and what a garden could possibly say about that. It's about the bringing together of engineering and nature and trying to show that these can work in harmony and that when you create a new motorway or new city, you don't have to push nature to the limits and get it out of the way, that really looking forward we have to, we have to work these things together."
His design symbolizes the ancient silk road trade route from East to West. It mixes industrial and organic concepts.
TOM STUART-SMITH GARDEN DESIGNER "So the crux of the garden is this idea that these large concrete structures in the garden, and then this big pavilion made out of bamboo in the middle, which kind of brings nature and construction together."
Another prominent feature is the inclusion of heritage plants from China. The wide range of varieties appeals to the landscaper.
TOM STUART-SMITH GARDEN DESIGNER "Most of the plants we are using are intentionally Chinese plants and I think that the Chinese flora is so rich and diverse, I mean it is one of the greatest flora on the planet."
JULIET MANN HERTFORDSHIRE "So much of what we often think of as a quintessential English garden has its roots in Chinese horticulture. It will be interesting to see if the European style of wilder more natural planting grows on the visitors at the Beijing expo. Juliet Mann, CGTN, Hertfordshire."