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Future Climate Info Sponsor Artisan Garden at Chelsea Flower Show

The Trugmaker’s Garden – keeping the art of traditional Trugmaking alive

The dying craftsmanship of Sussex Trugmakers who have been trog-photo making the iconic willow and sweet chestnut garden Trugs for over 200 years, is being highlighted in a stunning Artisan Garden designed by first time RHS Chelsea Flower Show designers, Serena Fremantle and Tina Vallis.

The garden is sponsored by Future Climate Info who provide essential information for home buyers on environmental risks such as contaminated land, flooding, ground instability, and energy industry and infrastructure activities (for example shale gas and HS2). Future Climate Info's environmental risk reports are normally obtained by the solicitor or legal conveyancer acting for the homebuyer.


The theme for the Trugmaker’s Garden was inspired by the story of one particular artisan Trugmaker Mr Smith, who became famous in the 1850s while exhibiting at The Great Exhibition where he was asked by Queen Victoria to create several Trugs as gifts for her family. Mr Smith was so proud of his work he put the finished Trugs in a wheelbarrow and walked with them all the way from East Sussex to deliver them in person to Buckingham Palace.

The designers wanted to highlight that the traditional artisan Trug making skills are dying out as cheaper mass market plywood and plastic products are produced. The garden aims to promote the true craftsmanship and high quality of the Sussex Trug which are still made today using willow and the distinctive darker sweet chestnut circular handle.

Sussex Trugs are also highly sustainable as they are made from the by-products of willow cricket bat manufacture, and the chestnut used is coppiced from managed woodlands. Nothing goes to waste in their making. Unlike their cheaper counterparts, traditional Sussex Trugs are extremely long lasting and easy to mend. When they do finally reach the end of their life, the wood was traditionally used for fire kindling or put on a compost heap.


Serena Fremantle (right of photo) and Tina Vallis have designed the garden to evoke a typical Trugmaker’s garden in front of a traditional timber built workshop. The garden’s vibrant planting scheme of oranges and acid greens, set against greens, plums and dashes of blue and red, is intended as a means of attracting passing trade. The busy workshop is bursting with willow and chestnut wood and the traditional Trugmaker’s tools, which have been loaned by working Sussex Trugmakers.

Trug materials and techniques are used throughout the garden design, including the fence and chestnut stepping stones. The steps up the garden use reclaimed bricks made of local Wealden clay.

Serena and Tina were introduced to each other by their contractor, Frogheath Landscapes, and the two decided to take on the challenge of a Chelsea garden together. Tina Vallis trained at Kew and has over 18 years’ experience as a garden designer in Kent and East Sussex. She has a deep understanding of the plants and planting conditions of this region. She creates environmentally sympathetic plantings that flourish in the local soils. Serena Fremantle runs her own garden design studio in Wiltshire. After graduating from Inchbald in 2012, Serena has immediately offered work alongside award winning designer, Jo Thompson. Before moving to Wiltshire, she had also lived in Kent and she designs garden for private clients in Kent, East Sussex and Wiltshire. In 2013 Serena was invited back to Inchbald as a studio tutor.

The garden sponsor Future Climate Info is keen to offer a sustainable life for the show garden after Chelsea. Therefore, many of the plants and shrubs from the Trugmakers garden will be replanted in the garden at a local children’s hospice run by the charity demelza.

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