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pounds 1m Chanel garden that blooms for just a week.

IT'S a garden fit for a king - full of exotic flowers, immaculately manicured hedges and steps made from hand-crafted stone.

This elegant creation is costing pounds 1 million. Yet you won't find it nestling behind a magnificent stately home.

It's being crammed into a plot not much bigger than an average backyard.

And the owner won't have much time to appreciate it - this garden will last for just one week.

The "perfumed garden" is the work of Chanel's chief designer Karl Lagerfeld and forms the basis of the most lavish display London's Chelsea Flower Show has ever seen.

The Imaginary Garden Of Coco Chanel, named after the company's founder who died in 1971, will house 50 different species of plant.

Among them will be hundreds of white camellias, Coco's favourite flower - now a familiar symbol on many of Chanel's goods.

The camellias have been kept in cold storage since December because they usually bloom in January. When exposed to the real world next month, each plant will be fitted with its own miniature umbrella to stop the petals going brown in the rain.

In the meantime, miniature box hedges are being painstakingly trained to trace the interlocking Cs which from Chanel's logo.

English garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, 38, has already spent 15 months creating the baroque garden "room" - with its walls of hedges and a carpets of plants.

He said: "We're trying to create a late 17th Century French garden in a corner of modern London that's only 40 feet long. It's like having a baby. You struggle with it for a year and when it happens it's wonderful, but you have to pick yourself up get on with the next thing."

British supermodel Karen Elson, who often works for Chanel, is expected to be at the garden's "birth" with creator Karl Lagerfeld when the show opens on May 19.

But even though the show is regarded as the gardening world's answer to the Oscars, Chanel's extravagance has astounded some.

Geoff Stokes from the National Society Of Allotment And Leisure Gardeners said: "I'm speechless. Putting on a show garden is not cheap and it doesn't take long to run up costs of pounds 200,000 to pounds 300,000 but pounds 1 million is amazing, especially when the exhibit is going to be dismantled after about a week.

"The Chelsea Flower Show is like the Ideal Home exhibition - it's meant to show you what any gardener can achieve, not one with pounds 1 million to spare.

"Gardeners also hate throwing plants away and a lot of them will feel a pang when they think how that pounds 1 million has been spent."

Chelsea Flower Show is open to Royal Horticultural Society members only on May 19 and 20, and the public on May 21 and 22.


IF you fancy following Chanel's example here are some of the 7,000 plants which will make up their pounds 1million garden...

THE HEDGES: Beech, yew, and miniature box.

THE SHRUBS: Camellias, guelder roses, glauca roses, iceberg roses, willow, tree purslane, lilac, honey-bush, milkweed, Aztec pearl, deutzia gracilis, quicksilver, rock rose, and convolvulus.

THE HERBACEOUS PLANTS: Columbine, wormweed, centranthus, dicentra, foxgloves, hesperis, irises, mullein, peony, bedstraw, plantain lily, masterwort, milkweed, giant fennel, fennel, anthriscus, onopordon, blessed mary's thistle, Jacob's ladder, mourning widow, mayflower, lily of the valley, geraniums, and cardoon.

THE BULBS: Rocky mountain tulips.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Smith, Warwick
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 5, 1998
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