The essential journalist news source
The Skin Deep Garden at Chelsea



Alchemy between Harley Street and Gold Medal Winner set to stun at Chelsea

Gold medal winning garden designer Robert Barker (41, from Cambridge) will create an extraordinary garden that embraces a horticultural and sculptural tribute to our skin at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

In a unique collaboration with the Harley Street Skin Clinic, Robert Barker is creating a unique entry at Chelsea this year, the Skin Deep Garden. Our largest organ; skin is our personal, unique brand which signals instant clues to our genetic heritage, age and health and this garden will celebrate both its beauty and diversity.

A modernist designer, Robert's credentials are solid with years of experience in garden design. Following a successful career as a musician, Robert had his moment of revelation during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010 when insight struck and dramatically drew him into a new direction.

Now, after an incredible 6 short years and with an RHS Gold Medal already under his belt, Robert's ascendance to the elite of garden design superstars has been to say the least, meteoric. Now, in turning his eye to the ultimate prize of a stunning show garden at Chelsea, the Skin Deep Garden has been created in collaboration with co-founders of the Harley Street Skin Clinic, Dr Aamer Khan, a specialist in anti-ageing technology and his wife, Lesley Reynolds.

Lesley, author of the bestselling ‘Look Younger for Longer' and a regular guest onThis MorningandLorraine, has been a tour de force in the skincare world for decades.

The show garden will feature a path which meanders through a virtual cityscape sculpture, leading to a serene space for contemplation on the story our own skin tells. The concrete blocks represent human faces, whilst the planting which includes Boehmeria platanifolia and Astilboides tabularis will be off set with beautiful ferns, grasses and plants, each chosen to suggest an aspect of human skin (such as Pulmonaria with their spotty foliage and Heuchera with veined leaves) along with burgundy, blue and white flowering colour, all supplied by Kelways Plants.

Lesley describes the concept of the Skin Deep garden: "Concrete blocks will represent different human faces and skin conditions. We wanted to embrace the intense connection our skin has with our life story, and Robert has found a way to translate this into the scheme."

Robert provides further insight, saying: "I am comparing all the changes our skin undergoes within a textural planting scheme. Small pools of water add a reflective quality and represent how important water is to maintaining a healthy skin. I am really hoping that this message will literally shine through the design."

The Skin Deep Garden can be seen at this year's RHS Chelsea, The Royal Hospital, 22-26 May 2018. The garden is sponsored by The Skin Deep Group led by Harley Street Skin Care, along with Vaughan Designs, Chiltern GRC and London Stone.





Construction of the show garden will be realised by Terra Forma Landscapes and Robert Barker Landscape Designs.

Robert's partnership with Jamie Fuller (owner of Terra Forma Landscapes) has catapulted them both to the very top of garden design. They collaborated on the Gold Medal winning ‘Red Thread' garden at RHS Hampton Court, the inspiration for which was the Chinese myth stating that when we are born the gods tie our ankles with a red thread and attach it to all the people whose lives we're destined to touch. Monty Don declared that "The Red Thread by designer Robert Barker exemplifies all that is interesting about the conceptual gardens and the judges agree with me because they gave it a gold medal."

Robert Barker has succeeded at numerous RHS landmark events including a collaboration with Dairmuid Gavin and a Gold-Medal winning show garden in 2016. However, this garden path has been a winding one for Barker who now lives in Cambridgeshire with his Australian wife and family.

Named after the legendary Bob Dylan, Barker believed from an early age that music would be his calling. He studied music at college and then enjoyed a successful career, playing at venues all over London including the Hard Rock Café, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Robert explains: "I enjoyed performing but I mainly concentrated on recording. In 2008 I created my own independent record label (Pintail Records) and released a number of EP's and an album. I came very close to being signed by a major label when I felt myself pulled in a completely different creative direction".

Renowned for subtle approach to cosmetic enhancement, Dr Khan specialises in non-invasive treatments primarily designed to keep the surgeon's knife at bay. He has also helped thousands of men and women - including injured soldiers in Afghanistan - each with a different concern, to look good and feel as good as they can.