Plankbridge unveil RHS Bothy at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

With an English ash writing desk inspired by Monty Don’s potting bench, shelves for well-thumbed garden books and an armchair for that all-important afternoon nap, the latest design from Dorset hutmakers Plankbridge evokes the heady, bucolic atmosphere of the Victorian bothy but with all the comforts of the modern age.

Created in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the RHS Bothy was launched in the centre of the Great Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show as a venue for a series of RHS interviews with women in horticulture. It will then move to the Orchard at RHS Garden Wisley, the flagship garden of the RHS, where it will make a striking centrepiece as part of an exciting project to reimagine edible growing at RHS Garden Wisley.

Many of the Bothy’s design features have been inspired by visits to RHS Garden Wisley by Plankbridge owners Richard Lee and Jane Dennison, from the desk brackets, forged over Dorset charcoal, which were based on the boot scraper outside the Wisley Arts & Crafts Old Laboratory, to patterns drawn by Gertrude Jekyll from the RHS Lindley Collections, engraved in the desk back. In addition, the curtains and Roman blind have been made using RHS-endorsed fabrics.

The hut itself was inspired by a small brick-built, timber-clad structure that Richard recalls from his childhood. ‘I grew up in a former keeper’s cottage in bluebell woods near Wimborne in Dorset and there was a little bothy there that I can picture to this day,’ he explains. ‘So when the RHS asked if we could work together on a unique design, I took inspiration from their gardens combined with my childhood memories to create the RHS Bothy – an atmospheric and evocative space for modern times.’

Cathy Snow, RHS Licensing Manager, adds: ‘Once again Plankbridge has produced an exceptional example of UK craftsmanship working closely with the RHS licensing team and taking inspiration from RHS Garden Wisley, that is also an appealing and highly functional contemporary space with multiple uses. We’re proud to endorse the RHS Bothy and look forward to continuing our successful relationship with the highly skilled, very experienced and enormously enthusiastic Plankbridge team.’

The RHS Bothy has been designed to sit well in a garden, and offer something visually different to the traditional shepherd’s hut, yet still be recognisably Plankbridge. ‘A lot of thought has gone into making the Bothy sit visually in the landscape,’ explains Richard. ‘We have played around with giving the sides of the hut a waisted skirt anchoring it to an invisible central point beneath the ground – a not-inconsiderable design challenge. Using English timbers as much as possible, we have chosen beautifully grained English ash for the floor, and home-grown naturally durable sweet chestnut for the windows, doors and internal walls, which have traditional bead and butt detail to create a warm, homely atmosphere.’

It has also been designed to feel that it could be found close to the walled garden of a country house, or at the end of the gravel path near an orchard – a place where a busy gardener might retreat to for lunch, a mug of coffee, to store garden tools. More contemporary uses include a place to work from home, write, craft, play music, read the Sunday papers, or take a well-earned snooze.

Features include:
Cast-iron wheels – a portable room you can take with you if you move.
Corrugated iron cladding – for low maintenance and a long life.
English timbers – as environmentally friendly as it can be.
Insulated – built like a modern timber-framed house, it’s for year-round use.
Electrics – 240v or off-grid solar.
In a colour to suit your setting.
Timeless design – taking inspiration from the gardens of the RHS and the heritage of times past.

The RHS Bothies are on sale online and through in-person orders via the Plankbridge workshop. They will all be made to order.