9 Jun 2016

Natural Stone Triumphs at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The end of last month saw the Royal Horticultural Society's annual Chelsea Flower Show return to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The show is always a fantastic event for horticulture and landscape industries, but this year, the highlight of the show was natural stone.

Member firm The Marble & Granite Centre, sponsors of ‘The Antithesis of Sarcophagi’ have been celebrating a record win at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show – where their unique garden scooped both a Gold medal and Best Fresh Garden. 

The garden was designed by artists and letter carvers Martin Cook and Gary Breeze and featured a 44 tonne granite cube set in a barren landscape – seemingly at first sight a ‘garden’ with neither flowers or plants. Chelsea visitors queued patiently to peer through small holes in the granite cube and were treated with a view of the beautiful, regenerating woodland garden inside the cube.

Martin and Gary explained the concept behind the garden:

"It actually dates back to the ‘waste’ granite we were left with when we designed the London memorial to the victims of the Bali bombing. The granite shell left over from that project inspired us to create a garden about rejuvenation following a catastrophe or natural disaster.”

The fact that Chelsea visitors were encouraged to queue to see into the Antithesis of Sarcophagi was all part of the concept, Gary and Martin explained.

“Our garden offers the lost joy of delayed gratification. In this world of instant internet access, sat navs and ready meals ... we wanted to encourage people to get back to what nature means. In nature you have to wait – you plant a seed, water it, protect it and eventually it rewards you with beauty. If Chelsea visitors wanted nature’s reward, they had to wait their turn. Luckily, they all agreed that our garden was worth waiting for!”

The garden has now been made available for sale as a work of public art, and the designers and sponsor hope that it will be made accessible to an even wider audience. 

The Federation would like to congratulate The Marble & Granite Centre for their success at the show.


Members' News

Stone Federation are a member of EuroRoc, an organisation made up of the various European Federations for the dimensional stone industry.  The aim of the group is to coordinate questions of common interest and find solutions while promoting the use of dimensional natural stone.


The Federation's EuroRoc representative, Michael Poultney of Albion Stone along with Peter Harrison of Harrison Goldman, attended the latest meeting held at the Verona Stone Show in October.


There were a range of topics discussed, but shown are four discussions points that will be of particular interest to members.


1. Ethical Sourcing - There are various different degrees of controls of ethical sourcing across Europe and some is at a very local level.  It was accepted that the EU should be encouraging stones from ethical sources but there was some scepticism that a system with a high degree of certainty could be found in the short term.  It was agreed that the starting point should be to pool all the experiences from the differing methods currently being used by different, Countries, companies and organisations.

2. Geographical Protection - There was considerable support from across the EU and the robust comments from the UK were considered positive.  It is back with the European Parliament on what could be a long journey to possible implementation.  

3. Reporting Figures - There was concerns that the code numbers used for reporting production, imports and exports are not recording the dimensional stone figure accurately.  It was suggested that these should be related to the harmonised Product Standards (BS EN). Michael Poultney has been in dialogue with BGS and Eric Bignell at the Natural Stone Specialist magazine about the topic earlier in the month. Euroroc will progress the matter with the relevant authorities.

4. Silica Dust - There was a mixed response about the danger of the implementation of the dust regulations and the prospects of reducing the code.  It was agreed that the experiences from the implementation from national authorities will be requested.


With the island of Portland, from which the famous Portland limestone comes, being just off the Dorset coast from Weymouth, there could not have been a more appropriate material to use for a sculpture of the Olympic rings that has now been installed in the town that is hosting the Olympic sailing events. 

Burlington Stone has acquired the rights to quarry at Petts Quarry on Kirkstone Pass and Brathay Quarry near Ambleside following the regrettable demise of Kirkstone Quarries Ltd.

This new monument, costing £5 million, will commemorate the 55, 573 crew members of the RAF's Bobmer Command who were killed between 1939 and 1945.  The average age of those who lost their lives was just 22.

Albion Stone has recently purchased a new ‘JCB Fantini’, tractor mounted stone saw which will be used to increase efficiency in the Quarry & Mine.  This is the first machine of its type to be imported into any UK stone extraction operation. 


TV presenter, journalist and former conservative politician and Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo made a fascinating tour of local natural stone producer, Burlington Stone of Kirkby-in-Furness, shown on 26th January on BBC2 at 6.30pm, as part of series three of the BBC’s popular travel documentary, Great British Railway Journeys.


A £500,000 investment into an innovative new roof for Albion Stone’s Factory is set to save thousands of pounds a year on their electricity bills.

Albion Stone supplied over 3m³ of Jordans Basebed and Jordans Whitbed in the form of treads risers, paving and memorial stones.

Taking centre stage on The Marshalls Garden That Kids Really Want! at the 2008 RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May the company utilised its own indigenous natural Yorkstone block to create two striking central features in this amazing organic playground.