Hugo has designs on city dwellers

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Western Morning News – Janet King – 22 January 2011

Stylish, sleek and good for the environment – that will be the theme of award-winning young landscape designer Hugo Bugg’s rooftop show garden when he exhibits at the RHS London Plant & Design Show next month.

Cornwall-based Hugo, 23, who is the Royal Horticultural Society’s current Young Designer of the Year, plans to create a stunning contemporary rooftop garden aimed at busy city-dwellers.

A key feature will be its low-maintenance, and the garden will also seek to soothe away the stresses and strains of urban living.

“It’s a very exciting project and I am delighted to be involved,” says Hugo, who grew up near Axminster in Devon and who now runs his own landscape design company, Hugo Bugg Landscapes.

“What I hope to create is a modern, urban retreat for city-dwellers, a relaxing environment where they can enjoy the city skylines. With habitat-friendly sedum roof planting and beautifully simple Urbis planters, it will be the perfect sustainable and low maintenance rooftop to calm anyone’s hectic lifestyle.”

Hugo’s garden will be one of two contemporary show gardens at the London show that will champion the use of green-roof gardening in the city. The other will be by London-based Melissa Jolly.

Both will demonstrate how green-roof gardening and living-wall planting can be stylish and sleek as well as good for the environment.

A recent RHS study showed rooftop gardening can help combat climate change by lowering surrounding air temperatures. Tijana Blanusa, who undertook the RHS research, says: “Getting planting right in urban spaces, which can be limited, can have a major effect in not only helping reduce urban temperatures but will also provide other environmental benefits. So, this exhibition is really useful for people looking for tips on how green-roofing can work for them.”

As ever, Hugo will be helped with the build by his friends at Himalayan Landscaping( Dhundi Bhusal is a good friend of Hugo’s who helped him win Best Show Garden at RHS Show Tatton last year. “I always trust Dhundi,” says Hugo. “His eye for detail is fantastic.”

Hugo has also secured promises of supplies from several major gardening companies, some locally-based, all keen to help make his garden a must-see at the show.

For instance, Blackdown Horticultral Consultants, of Somerset ( will be supplying green wall and sedum roof matting; contemporary plant containers will come from Urbis ( and lounge chairs will come from Encompass ( Natural stone paving will come from the Yeovil branch of Topps Tiles (, while the timber is from Payne Timber (, Ottery St Mary.

However, there is still one rather large challenge to overcome for Hugo, who graduated from University College Falmouth with a first class honours degree in garden design two years ago. And it’s not just the rather small £5,000 show-garden budget.

There is the small matter of having to build the garden beforehand in a barn down here in the Westcountry, and then transporting it up to London, where it must be rebuilt on site in just two days.

“To be honest, it’s a logistical nightmare!” he confesses. “I’m still looking for a barn to build it in, but I’m having real difficulty in finding one… the problem is, it rather clashes with the lambing season! So, if any of your readers can help, do tell them to get in touch!”

Seen as a rising star ever since he was voted Student Garden Designer of the Year 2008 by the Society of Garden Designers when he was at Falmouth college, Hugo has a very busy year ahead of him.

After the RHS London Plant & Design Show (on February 15 and 16) Hugo will be exhibiting at the prestigious RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (July 5-10), where he is designing a show garden for breast cancer awareness charity, CoppaFeel (

It is a charity close to his heart, because it was set up by the twin sister of his close friend, Maren Hallenga, with whom he studied at Falmouth. After college, he and Maren had set up a landscape gardening company together, but sadly, just as their business was taking off, Maren’s twin sister, Kristin, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, which led to her setting up CoppaFeel. Maren decided to step back from her gardening commitments, and is now devoting her time to help Kristin and her cause.

And then, of course, there’s the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 24-28). Hugo had hoped to design his own show garden at Chelsea this year, but while he hasn’t quite managed to pull that one off, he’s hoping to do so next year. This year, however, as part of his prize of becoming RHS Young Designer 2010, he is helping out with the Laurent-Perrier Garden at Chelsea. “It will be valuable experience for me, particularly from the point of view of getting involved in project planning and meetings,” says Hugo.

Meanwhile, he’s concentrating on the RHS London Plant & Design Show… and that barn. “The garden will be a 4 x 5 metre urban retreat and I’m hoping it will inspire visitors to exploit every inch of their outdoor space in a creative way,” he adds.

According to the RHS, benefits of green-roof gardening include heat-insulation, water-absorption and providing a safe environment for wildlife. Recently, a new industry code of practice has been set up that gives key requirements for successful green roof design and installation.

At the London show will be exhibits by some of Britain’s finest nurseries, with both nurserymen and growers putting on interactive seasonal demonstrations. Visitors will be also able to buy design-based gardening products from the many trade-stands and, of course, plants on display will also be available to buy.

Show manager Jenny Jenner says: “Our London shows are a perfect platform for young talent to strut their stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hugo designing gardens at Chelsea in a few years to come.”

But judging by Hugo’s innovative landscapes, it seems likely he will be at Chelsea a lot sooner than that.