For his fifth year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Tom created a show garden inspired by the great Renaissance gardens of Italy for leading research charity Arthritis Research UK. Inspired by the stunning gardens at Villa Lante and Villa d’Este the Arthritis Research UK Garden captured the drama, formality and beauty of the Renaissance gardens. Whilst Tom retained all classical ideals of order associated with these historic Italian gardens, he stripped away the flamboyance and decadence to reveal a simpler and more minimal design.
The garden explores the Renaissance obsession of man controlling nature, in particular their desire to tame wild rivers to create spectacular fountains, cascades and jets. Tom worked with water expert Andrew Ewing to create three water features to replicate the ingenious trickery and technical engineering that was employed to great effect in the period. Linked throughout the garden, the water features – a long fountain seat set against a backdrop of 30 powerful jets, a water cascade and a shallow mirror pool with infinity edge – was authentically powered by gravity and hydrostatic power. The water cascade, inspired by the Fontana dell’Ovato (oval fountain) at the Villa d’Este, was an isolated decorative element in the vista and a stunning backdrop that visually linked separate parts of the garden and drew visitors in. The garden was awarded a Silver Gilt medal and also won the People’s Choice award as it was voted the best show garden by the public.