It’s been almost a week since this year’s show ended, and after 3 weeks of building and 5 days of showing, the grounds of Chelsea Royal Hospital will be back to normal in just a few days like it never was disturbed.
But what is left behind is the imprint of inspiration and the messages behind the gardens that the designers are trying to put across to us. These ‘hidden’ messages seemed to clearer than ever this year. A sudden shift from clipped box balls and rendered walls to rugged materials and natural planting was widespread across a vast majority of the gardens.
Green was the dominant theme at Chelsea, literally and metaphorically. Woodland style planting with broad leaves and mixture of textures styled most of the show gardens on main avenue. Green, of course, has a place in every single garden on the planet, but Andy Sturgeon’s garden proved it to be show-stopping in its own right. With the right plants this can be emulated seamlessly in your own garden especially if you’re dealing with shade, underplant hornbeam or field maple with carpet forming pachysandra and rodgersias.
Recycle and Reuse
From the show gardens on main avenue to the artisans in Ranelagh gardens, rustic artefacts were sprinkled amongst the landscape somewhere. The orange tones in rusty industrial elements complimented by rich toned planting made for sumptuous displays, that with a trip to a reclamation yard can be replicated at home. Full planting is a must to pull this type of style off, the plants need to almost hide the feature otherwise your garden will end up looking like a scrap yard, which nobody wants.
Chris Beardshaw’s garden was not only naturalistic when it was completed but during its development and build, he made every attempt to create his garden from sustainable resources proving that Chelsea’s designers are trying to spearhead raising awareness for the issues around our environment, which is not something we are used to seeing at the show. Groundworks were conducted with electric machinery and his plants were grown in recyclable taupe pots. It’s no longer all about grandeur and expense but sustainability and longevity of our landscapes.
Not a box ball in sight! There was a time where they littered the place, now they have been swapped out for lower growing, softly mounded forms such a yew or beech, where their structure is less obvious but still plays a significant role in bringing definition to borders amongst free-flowing planting. Foxgloves, poa grass, scabious and ragged robin dominated this year, proving natural planting doesn’t always look messy. Contrast orange varieties of foxgloves with the pale blue scabious for an eye-catching twist.