10 years since Tiptree and RABI’s garden at Chelsea
1st June 2020
“Strawberries and Champagne”: the theme for the John Joseph Mechi garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 created huge interest from fruit loving visitors. The garden reflected the times of this innovative Victorian farmer and marked the anniversaries of two amazing organisations The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) and Tiptree jam.
John Joseph Mechi founded the farming charity The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) 150 years ago and it continues to help those in need in the farming community. In June 2010 Wilkin & Sons Limited celebrated 125 years of jam making at Tiptree, where fruit is still grown on the land once farmed by John Joseph Mechi. The creative skills of Ben Wincott, the designer from Writtle College, were reflected in his choice of the water feature, natural stone and the challenging planting.
Ben’s design illustrated the values of the Victorian plantsmen who were keen to introduce new methods of cultivation and new plants from abroad. A bubbling champagne style water feature, the introduction of copper to remind us that copper is still used in jam making pans at Tiptree and innovative ways of growing rhubarb may have inspired some visitors to replicate his methods in their own gardens.
After months of searching Ben found a superb specimen tree for the garden, some beautiful Espalier pear trees, hundreds of strawberry plants grown for the show by Essex plant grower, Ken Muir, and rhubarb crowns that were taken from the fields where once Mechi farmed at Tiptree. The medlar tree that featured in the Chelsea garden was replanted in the medlar orchard at Tiptree where it thrives.
We hope that this virtual reminder of the Chelsea Flower Show will rekindle some memories as we look forward to a time when the Chelsea Show will be open again in 2021.