The RHS Bothy: Progress of the build

Author: Plankbridge Founder, Richard Lee

I have always used RHS Chelsea Flower Show as a milestone; an opportunity for innovation and to display something new. It’s a great place to gauge people’s reactions, and I value the opinions of the architects, designers and gardening people who have a keen and experienced eye.

This year we will have a 20’ Cabin model on display, with double bed, kitchen, shower room and seating area. Presented in Plankbridge green, it’s a flagship model and will be shown in our usual tradestand position down in Ranelagh Gardens.

This year’s innovation is the launch of a new design, the RHS Bothy. As part of our endorsement with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) we have collaborated to design a specific model. It will be set up as a home office, with a desk in English Ash, modelled on a traditional potting bench, with upstands on three sides. It is lined in home-grown sweet chestnut, random width boards simply finished in a neutral wax.

In line with our environmental policy the RHS Bothy is made entirely with UK grown timber, even the panelled ceiling is made in Northern Ireland.

Furniture maker Tom choosing the grain

The RHS Bothy will be featured in a display celebrating ‘Women in Horticulture’, landscaped by award-winning garden designer Pollyanna Wilkinson in the Great Pavilion. To continue the theme within the shepherd’s hut, I asked the RHS for access to images from the Gertrude Jekyll ‘Designs for Carving Scrapbook’. Credit: Gertrude Jekyll / RHS Lindley Collections.

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was a famous garden designer and author who created some 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and America. Her influence on garden design continues to this day.

Display garden rendered image Credit: Pollyanna Wilkinson

David, from The Fusion Workshop, together with our designer Mark Jones, scanned and prepped the sketch for laser engraving. I really like that the original hand-drawn sketches that Gertrude Jekyll carefully did in her notebook have been perfectly represented by something so modern as a laser. It has worked really successfully. We cut panels out of the upstand, and they have been returned back into place in the board to match the grain, the panels beings slightly recessed as if they have been punched into the surface of the wood.

Furniture maker Tom working on the panels

Senior hutmaker Rikki has been tasked with building the first RHS Bothy. His skills and experience are best placed to develop new designs, and he’s enjoying working on such an exciting project. He’s been laying the ash floor this week, all random width boards fixed with traditional cut floor brad nails.

Senior hutmaker Rikki at work

Jane and I visited RHS Garden Wisley to gain some inspiration for the RHS Bothy. I was looking for metalwork to base some forge work on. There were plenty of swirly gates and wall lamps, but it was a boot scraper near the laboratory building that really caught my eye. I asked Mike to work up something on the forge, a bracket that had a nod to the boot scraper. He fired up the forge with Dorset charcoal and created just the thing, and even used forged rivets to link the parts.

RHS Garden Wisley bootscraper provides inspiration for the metalwork

I was keen to develop the tapered, waisted, sides to this hut design, and I’m told this roots the shape into the ground, rather than on the ground and that’s great. There are even a few details inspired by my Bournemouth tram office in the workshop, and I’m also recalling the caravan in Danny the Champion of the World. It’s an incredibly exciting project as all these elements come together.

Rikki and Tom fitting the tin to the exterior
Team lead, Rikki, after all the tin has been fitted
Fitting the characteristic curved roof to the RHS Bothy

The RHS Bothy is designed to be a home office, art studio, or hobby room. The first one is fitted with a desk, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be open plan or fitted out to a customer’s individual needs. They are available to order, priced at £50,000. After RHS Chelsea Flower Show this first RHS Bothy will be on display at RHS Garden Wisley for all to see. Do get in touch with our knowledgeable and friendly head of sales, Rachel, who will be happy to tell you more.

The brilliant team lead, Rikki, with the RHS Bothy just before delivery to London

® The Royal Horticultural Society. Trade marks of The Royal Horticultural Society (Registered Charity No 222879/SC038262) used under licence from RHS Enterprises Limited.

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