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Sarah Naybour’s Designs for the Chelsea Flower Show

Sarah Naybour's third show stand for David Harber’s internationally renowned sculptures and sundials

At each turn there will be another magnificent piece from David’s collection...

2015 will be my third consecutive year designing for David Harber at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The experience, is exhilarating, challenging, and daunting. But the thrill of it doesn’t diminish. To have a design at the Chelsea Flower Show is the pinnacle and a very special experience.

The stand is on Main Avenue, the busiest thoroughfare in what is the garden world’s premiere showcase. Opposite are all the biggest – and most expensive – show gardens. There is a lot to live up to. It is hugely competitive to get a space, and you know you have to aim for perfection.

The ideas and inspiration for this years stand started at the show last year amongst the buzz and excitement of the build. As trees and hedges were lifted onto site, this year’s concept started to form….


I have designed David Harber a woodland glade, (stand MA6 on Main Street) right in the bustling heart of the show, as an exquisite and natural setting for David’s sculptures and sundials.

Dappled light will filter through the trees to play softly on the reflective surfaces of David’s work, featuring several pieces specially designed for the show.

I opted for the subtle bronze shades on the trunks of Betula Edinburgh, rather than the Jacquemonti birch, as these complement the Bronze used in several of David’s sculptures. The trees will be underplanted in a luscious but simple palette of green, white and blue with shrubs, ferns, Hosta, Digitalis, Dutch Iris and Camassia. 

The garden will be hedged with partial openings at the sides and has been created to induce a sense of discovery and exploration, drawing visitors in with glimpses of sculptures through the branches and the calming sound of running water.

At each turn there will be another magnificent piece from David’s collection, with the Filium Orb a central focus with its beguiling swirling mist of vine-like lattice work in distressed and textured metal and lustrous copper leaf interior, revealed for the first time at Chelsea.

In the corner of the stand, a timber and shingle-roofed shelter will provide protection from the weather.

This year, David wanted something completely different. We have chosen a gently curved glen as the theme, using natural woodland trees. In all there will be 11, all varieties of Betula - on the stand.  Choice of trees is always limited for Chelsea as so few are in leaf at that time of year, so this is going to be a challenge. And we are still anxiously watching the weather forecasts to see if we are heading for a hot, cold, wet or dry spell.

It is a real test of our skills, not just as designers, but as project managers. The logistics involved are immense. Imagine 400 stage sets being built simultaneously outdoors, hear the constant beep of machinery, see the blinding glare of High Viz, the neatly stored materials, the carefully stacked plants each one being treated like gold...The buzz is amazing. I lose weight not just from the 6-8pm days, but the adrenaline burning through my body. It is a wonder to behold as each garden gradually reveals itself over the two weeks of build: just like the spring buds on the trees unfolding.

Chelsea is very much about teamwork, about everyone pitching in for two weeks of build to produce one week of excellence. The high lasts for at least 14 days.

David’s garden, because it has to showcase his work, has to work for functionality as well as presenting a beautiful garden setting. The focus is on people movement as well as on planting, so that each piece can be fully appreciated. Gravel paths and paving will lead people around the stand, with some of David’s favourite poetry taken from his sculptures, etched into the paving stones.

One of the great things about working with clients is taking their comments and making them part of the space. Adding David’s words to the stones will add to the mystery of the garden and allow the space to communicate with the sculptures.

For the Harbers, Chelsea is incredibly important for the business. Sophie Harber, co-owner and marketing director said to me: “Chelsea is phenomenally important for meeting potential new clients, lots of people come to see us and we need to impress and engage them.”  

Hopefully you will be coming to see the stand at the Show and be impressed too.

For us, as Sophie put it, “It is always incredibly reaffirming for us to see that we are giving so many people a lot of pleasure. “

Visit us on stand MA6 on Main Street at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 19-23 May. If you can’t make it, take a look at David Harber’s sculptures on his website.


Sarah Naybour has a golden track record at the Chelsea Flower Show. She won 5 Star awards for her show stands for David Harber in 2013 and 2014 and is designing for David Harber’s internationally renowned sculptures and sundials at Chelsea again this year.

Sarah creates elegant, timeless country and contemporary urban garden spaces in Oxfordshire and London. With a fine art background, her understanding of architecture and love of good design is a hallmark of her work.  Sarah is available for private and commercial commissions for gardens to enhance residential property and developments.


Top Image - Bite by David Harber will be on the show stand for 2015

Middle Image - The stunning Volante by David Harber will be on show

Bottom Image - Sarah Naybour



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