The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is all over for another year, following a week of horticultural high energy. It was another year of immaculately high standards recognised with a flurry of gold medals being awarded to designers and plantpeople alike.
The overriding feel of the show gardens was of lush foliage and dappled light filtering through trees with woodland gardens very much in vogue with gold-winning examples from Andy Sturgeon’s M&G Garden (Best in Show) and The Duchess of Cambridge’s RHS Back to Nature garden (not judged).
An awareness of plant health and responsible plant choices and planting plans was a repeated message as highlighted in Sarah Eberle’s Resilience Garden and also underlying Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley Garden with his rescuing of a rejected, wonky Pinus nigra to star status.
Smaller gardens in the Spaces to Grow and Artisan sections gave plenty of inspiration with exquisite examples from young Japanese designers Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Sato for their Kampo No Niwa garden using plants from the island of Hokkaido, all with medicinal qualities. And Spaces to Grow category winner Joe Perkins’s garden for Facebook proved a big hit as the sun came out, complete as it was with gentle lapping waves and coastal habitat plantings.
The Artisan gardens are always popular with visitors and this year’s category winner was the Family Monsters Garden, designed by Alistair Bayford. This refined space features birch and hazel to create an enclosed space centred on a tranquil water feature and wooden bench. The message was one of family time together as a way to overcome stresses and strains.
Iris sibirica in intense blues, buttery yellow Trollius x cultorum ‘Cheddar’, evergreens – particularly pine trees in various shapes and sizes and a rather striking Gunnera killipiana originating from Guatemala on Andy Sturgeon’s garden following a trend for big, bold, textural foliage.
People’s Choice winners
The end of the week brings a second sense of anticipation with the announcements of the People’s Choice votes. This year’s winners were:
Show Garden: Welcome to Yorkshire
Space to Grow Garden: CAMFED Garden: Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow.
Artisan Garden: The Donkey Sanctuary: Donkeys Matter.
It was a confident yet thoughtful show, reminding us that the choices in our gardens really do have an impact on the health and wellbeing of us both as individuals and also the wider environment.