Julie Dunn – Tatton Show Garden

This is my blog about creating my first RHS show garden at Tatton Park 2018

A Tatton show garden in the making: ‘Sleep Well’ a garden for wellbeingPerspective

I’ve got a show garden!

January 16 2018.
“Got the garden!” I text my husband and our two daughters. “Well done” (husband), well done Mum (D#1) and “fab-what is it?” (D#2). I phone Mam and Dad-“I got the garden!” I blurt out. “Oh that’s great, did you not think you would?” says my mother. It’s the stuff of my dreams I think-of course I didn’t expect it! I run around work but no-one is around as it’s lunchtime, so I leave a note on a keyboard saying “OMG got the garden!!!” About five minutes pass and I think to myself-now I have to deliver it. I re-read the email from the RHS to check it’s still there (and real). I phone Jan (Janet Haigh) and Steve, ‘proper’ artists and creative mentors, who have helped it happen with their beautiful illustrations and many discussions (and a few Brancott’s). A string of expletives emerge from the receiver. I tell them that they were instrumental to the process and Jan says “YOU did it babe”.

May 2017: The dormant seed and its sudden germination

Lets start at the beginning…
Almost sixteen years ago I had a dream I had a show garden at Chelsea with planting based on garments my mother had created from Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knitting book. The particular knitwear was not defined but the idea was planted. My scribbled notes upon waking were stuffed into a file and soon after that I had my second daughter.


A selection from my Kaffe Fassett collection knitted by my mother

About a year ago…
The notes remained in the file until last May when I found myself with a lot of spare time. Not ‘nice’ spare time, but the post-op type -sitting, not allowing myself to sit in garden (or I would garden), and reading Thomas Hardys and dreaming/planning life in general. After about four weeks I was mentally relaunching my garden design business (after more than a ten year lapse). Daily doses of Doctor in the House programs telling me about Lifestyle Medicine (daytime TV!) combined with the desire to escape a scientific career (I blame Hardy [Thomas]) germinated into an idea for a Tatton back to back show garden.

So we are up to date again now – I will create a garden in which to sleep, which would (obviously) have a fully dressed four poster bed within. I’ve had to refine the design a bit but most of it is still there – seems a concept many people are struggling with. If I had a pound for every time I have to say “No, an actual bed” we could just about afford the Fig trees (more about them later).


So I would like to take you on a journey with me through the stresses, highs and lows of creating a show garden at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2018.

Next time: the client, the early design and the whole point…

Thanks for reading my blog – I hope you enjoyed it!




8 thoughts on “Julie Dunn – Tatton Show Garden”

  1. Your garden looks like a beautiful and tranquil place to spend a few hours recuperating from a frenzied day.
    Very much looking forward to hearing about your progress and to visiting the garden in summer.
    All the best Julie.


  2. Julie
    We were so proud of you when you visited us last weekend and told us of your plans to create a Tatton Show Garden (SLEEP WELL). We know this is a lifelong ambition of yours and we know you will “Give It Your All”. Good Luck! Can’t wait to see it. Like to think that you were somewhat inspired (colourwise) by all those Kaffe Fassett garments I knitted over the years! Keep us updated. Love Mum and Dad X


  3. Hi Julie,

    A great read…..looking forward to Following your blog along side Jan’s.
    ( I am a mixed textile Artist friend of hers form Bristol ) ….
    All the best, enjoy the journey along the path to your dreams…..💜X

    Kind regards


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