Tuesday saw my annual outing to the Chelsea flower show. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the whole event. Obviously I adore gardens and all things botanical so relish the chance to go on immerse myself in the spectacle. However, I don’t always enjoy the constraints that I think Chelsea gives regarding Designers, some of the gardens I saw clearly look fantastic in the third week in May, but I do question what they would look like in a couple of months time or in the depths of winter. As a practising garden designer I find it a little bit of theatre. Maybe I view it with “house“ idea rather than how beautiful is that garden.
My garden favourites.
Andy Sturgeon has always been a favourite of mine, he rarely puts a foot wrong and this year was no exception.
His breathtaking garden sponsored by M&G was awarded ‘best in show’ at the Chelsea Flower Show and it’s easy to see why.
Huge chard oak structures rise from a beautiful woodland inspired green planting scheme. Inspired by seascapes in Australia, Andy has seamlessly translated this into an impressive show garden. The whole black and green contrast is something that I have employed in my garden, and the recently used in several of my designs. Understated cool, completely stunning, the black strapped is totally set off the many shades of green that he included.
A well deserved winner.
Unlike last year, where the trend seemed to be arid and dry, this year its the reverse of that with great big lush schemes. For me, that’s bang on the money. I respond well to greenery, and this year Chelsea Flower Show had it in spades. Quite literally!
Several of the gardens had even used ragged Robin, buttercups, meadow turf and weeds as part of the scheme which gave the space is a real understated established feel. From shade loving Angelica, huge Gunneras and Rodgersias It was all about the greenery, texture and leaf shape. Poetry.
Bee friendly gardening
I don’t think I have ever seen so many bees at Chelsea. Going to prove, that the more eco-friendly that garden designers can be will have a positive effect. Whilst I don’t design that many exclusively wildlife friendly Gardens, I do try and make planting choices that I know will benefit the declining bee population. More information about this display from McQueens can be found here
Be bold with trees
There seemed to be a lot of different trees in Chelsea this year. From the impressive pinus nigra in Chris Beardshaw’s garden through to the multisystem Silverbirch in the Artisan garden and the monkey puzzle (Araucaria Araucanian) which appeared in two gardens.
There was a really nice variety of exploration of unusual trees, going to show that you can be bold in the smallest of spaces.
Riots of colour
In previous years there have been very clear colour combinations, I remember that two or three years on the trot black-and-white seemed to be the à la mode.
This year however, there seem to be, aside from the greens, the opportunity to put all of the colours in the mix and somehow they worked! It was great to see rule books being ripped up in favour of just planting what looks great.
All in all this at Chelsea I felt saw a marked improvement on the past few years. There were some really great ‘take-home’ ideas to put into domestic settings, from the log walls, to a honeycomb inspired pergola there was plenty to catch your eye and have a go at yourself.