Jan Hendzel crafts secret garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Secret Garden by landscape designer Tom Hoblyn with Boodles makes its debut at Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (until 26 September 2021), concealed within a wooden structure by London-based contemporary furniture maker Jan Hendzel

Flower garden view
(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

Contemporary furniture maker Jan Hendzel has created a modular pavilion in collaboration with landscape designer Tom Hoblyn for The Boodles Secret Garden at London’s Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (until 26 September 2021).

The Secret Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Flower garden view

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s story of the same name, the garden, its creators say, is ‘a contemporary interpretation of the journey into an enchanted, life-changing sanctuary’.

The garden is accessed through Hendzel’s pavilion, featuring two louvre walls constructed from sustainably sourced oak found within 15 miles of Chelsea, and made at his workshop in Peckham. For the walls, Hendzel used consecutively cut oak logs, hand carved on one side with an undulated effect.

Inside the secret garden at Chelsea Flower Show, with a bench and part of the wooden louvred wall visible

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

On the other side of the walls, Taxus baccata hedging completes the structure, which was created as an interplay between natural and man-made elements. Flowers and leaves bring colour to the composition, with pops of blue, white and pink given by jewel-like plants such as Hydrangea paniculata, Miscanthus sinensis, Verbena hastata, Acis autumnalis and Fuchsia magellanica. 

The sculptural wooden shapes, Hendzel explains, explore natural forms in combination with ‘geometric carved interventions’. The pared-back aesthetic visible from the outside is contrasted with the richer vegetation concealed within the Secret Garden. On one side of the garden space, a textured wooden bench offers a moment of pause to observe the natural compositions by Hoblyn.

Detail of the louvred wall and dark green foliage

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

Hendzel was inspired by artist Bridget Riley’s works; from outside, the louvred wall offers a glimpse into the garden’s spaces behind it, creating an optical illusion as visitors walk alongside it. A small pool of water reflects the structure, plants and sky; all the elements come together with an interplay between lights, shadows, and reflections.

The project is a testament to Hendzel’s approach to design and craft. ‘We often take on projects that quickly become more than just making furniture,’ reads the studio's mission statement. ‘They become discussions of how people think, behave, respond and enjoy.’

Detail of door to the secret garden pavilion

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

The wooden structure of the pavilion is visible behind white flowers and green foliage

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

A glimpse into the secret garden, with a view of the undulated wooden planks forming the louvred wall

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)

Garden view

(Image credit: Fergus Coyle)


The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 is on view until 26 September 2021


Royal Hospital Chelsea
London SW3 4SR


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

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