The Perfumer's Garden by Ruth Gwynn and Alan Williams


Garden Award: Gold and Best Show Garden

Designers: Ruth Gwynn and Alan Williams

Sponsor: Natural Paving Company

Contractor: Keyscape Design & Construction

RHS Malvern Spring Festival 2018 sees the theme of the Victorian Great Exhibition of 1851 - Prince Albert wanted Victorian entrepreneurs to display their raw materials, show the manufacturing process and then display the finished manufactured articles within the great 'Crystal Palace'.

Our garden's aim is to inspire people to add more scent to their lives and their gardens by growing fragrant plants and flowers.

Inspired by Victorian Perfumers' this garden takes a look at the plants that give us fragrance (the raw materials) and suggest a quirky way in which these fragrances could be harvested, (the manufacturing process) and finally the perfume collected into bottles in the Perfumer's shop, (the finished article). As it's Spring time, we are hoping to include seasonal spring flowers that are particularly fragrant.

Key Plants in the Garden

The Perfumer's Garden will include plants from each of the three note groups - these are just an example of plants that could be include:

  • Head notes - Orris - Iris, Rose, Basil, Citrus, Lavender
  • Heart notes - Lily of the valley, Violet, Vetiver, Geranium, Jasmine, Juniper
  • Base notes - Cinnamon, Fir Balsam, Papyrus, Sandalwood, Cedar Wood Vetiver

About the Designers

Ruth Gwynn (pictured right with Contractor Rupert Keys) has been designing gardens for the last twenty years and trained at Pershore College of Horticulture and Birmingham Uni.

This year she is joined by Alan Williams as co-designer who she has been mentoring since he changed career, (previously he was an interior designer.)  Alan has been involved in the construction of a number of show gardens, but this year’s the first year he's been involved in the design process.

Ruth's personal circumstances have changed and Alan's input has been really important. Since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Ruth has struggled with the levels of stress that are associated with creating a show garden and working as a team has enabled her to carry on doing something she loves.

Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), is a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body.  Research has found that people with fibromyalgia have abnormally low levels of the hormones serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine in their brains.

Ruth has decided to build another show garden as they are addictive - 'the creative energy that goes into producing one, working with plants, the excitement, planning in the winter months for days when the plants will grow and flowers will bloom is just amazing.' 

They are growing some of the plants themselves and Ruth is enjoying getting back out in the nursery area as it takes her back to the fun times when she was a student working in a plant nursery.