Bridgerton comes to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

A secretive and secluded space, the Bridgerton garden is inspired by the Penelope Featherington character from Netflix and Shondaland series.

Netflox Bridgerton Garden RHS Chelsea 2024

Designed by Holly Johnston in the Sanctuary Garden category, the garden is designed to reflect Penelope Featherington‘s personal journey (played by Nicola Coughlan) . Expected to shine as the co-lead in the next season, Featherington who initially was portrayed as a quiet wall-flower, undergoes complex character development and rise to prominence.

The garden’s initial focus is a moongate which leads to an ornate water feature and sunken seating area in the heart of the garden. According to Johnston, on the surface this garden is a beautiful space that offers privacy and respite, but digging deeper, it’s a metaphor for women defiantly and courageously finding their voice – a rite of passage many can identify with. The moongate is to be seen as the portal into that person’s personal journey – and the ensuing garden shows the remarkable and personal transformative power of growth. 

The shaded part of the garden alludes to themes of mystery, turmoil and defiance – planted with ferns and ivy are intended to represent a woven network of secrets. In contrast, the other half of the garden graduates to a brighter palette of sophisticated colours, symbolic of Featherton embracing her true self and coming into the light. The curving path culminates at the back of the garden where an inscribed sculptural monolith symbolises change.

The planting reflects feelings of secrecy, growth and desire. A ring of field elms, Ulmus minor var. suberosa, offers secrecy and enclosure around the seating area, while clipped spirals mix formality with more whimsical planting.

The walling is drystone, thereby significantly reduces the amount of cement and mortar required to build the garden. Where cement is required, eco-crete is used for footings and where possible, cem-free cement. The water feature, stone plinth, boulders and sunken drystone wall are built with salvaged materials and reclaimed items.

Holly Johnston graduated with distinction in garden design from the English Gardening School. She is passionate about sustainable design and her conceptual approach balances formality with organic charm and understated elegance, often inspired by the rolling landscapes of her homeland in New Zealand. Prior to her career in garden design, Holly worked in journalism, media and account management in New York and London. Her earlier corporate career gives her an understanding of professional yet informal and collaborative, client-led relationships that work hand-in-hand to execute a shared vision.

“It’s a privilege to showcase my work and have the opportunity to create a garden for such an iconic and globally beloved show. Netflix and Shondaland’s adaptation of Bridgerton is eagerly anticipated, so I’m delighted to design a garden that tells an important, female-centric story of a woman coming of age, accepting her true self and stepping into the light. On a business level, as a relatively new member of the industry, I’m hopeful that designing at RHS Chelsea will enable me to expand my network and community, giving me the opportunity to engage, learn and grow”, explains Johnston.