Chelsea Flower Show 2022
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is back with a bang. This time it really had the buzz and energy that the show used to have. It was great to see some of the veterans of Chelsea like Sarah Eberle, Chris Beardshaw and Andy Sturgeon on main avenue. It was equally wonderful to see new faces creating gardens at the show. Balcony and courtyard gardens have now entered the arena as a judged category and there were some super take-home ideas for small spaces. Here are some of my favourite gardens from the show.
This garden blew me away. Designed my Sarah Eberle, it was sponsored by Medite Smartply and constructed by Landform Consultants.
Inspired by natural vertical rock strata. The structure was topped with a green sloping roof and a huge pine. Medite smartply’s sustainable and innovative wood panel products demonstrates the futures of sustainable landscapes and buildings. I had the opportunity to go around the garden. Standing under the rock structure I felt the cooler temperature. The thunderous sound of the water cascading down on the other side really transported me to a forest like wilderness.
The Morris & Co garden designed by Ruth Willmott. It was Ruth’s first main avenue garden and what a stunning garden it was. The garden layout and pathways were inspired William Morris’s first pattern Trellis (1862). Willow Boughs (1887) is Morris’s most well know pattern and this is used in the pavilion and the water channels.
The colour palette reflects Morris’s love of earthy reds, apricots and blues predominate.
The planting is wildlife friendly, and I was witness to the bees being drunk on the nectar of the salvias. Sponsored by Morris & Co and constructed by The Garden Builders.
The Meta garden sponsored by Meta, designed by Joe Perkins and constructed by the Landscaping Consultants.
This garden emphasises the inseparable connection between plants and fungi within the woodland ecosystems. This garden is inspired by the complex mycelium networks that connect and support woodland life. The pavilion structure is inspired by the interaction between the mycorrhizal network and its host tree’s roots. The immersive experience of this garden highlights the urgent need to redress the balance between humans and the natural world.
The Mind Garden sponsored by Project Giving Back. The garden was designed by Chelsea veteran Andy Sturgeon. The mind garden is a reminder for us to connect with each other for the benefit of our mental health. Sharing our struggles with others can help to change everything. Being there for others, a simple smile or a hello can make all the difference in another person’s life. The famous words of Maya Angelou that always resonate with me are “Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud”.
The rough textured walls create a journey through the sloping garden, directing the visitor to different rooms of the space where you fill hugged and protected. The tactile clay rendered walls bring people close to nature as of a biophilic design ethos encompassing exposure to woodland and meadows, natural materials throughout and water that ever present giver of life.
The Boodles Travel Garden designed by Thomas Hoblyn and constructed by The Garden Builders. This garden is inspired by the travels of Anthony Wainwright, grandfather of the current chairman of Boodles. It celebrates the incredible endeavour with planting drawn from all corners of the world. The garden is a calm sanctuary to reflect on the journey.
The Hands of Mangrove designed by Tayshan Hayden Smith and Danny Clarke. The duo known as Grow2Know. Sponsored by Project Giving Back and constructed by The Landscaping Consultants.
This garden brings together two prominent social and environmental issues together – global deforestation and social injustice. Set in Notting Hill, the space underneath the sculpture represents the deforested mangrove. Positioned in the centre, a statement reminding us of the impact we are having on our planets most important ecosystems, both locally and globally. It honours the Mangrove Nine, who were tried and acquitted of inciting a riot in 1970. Their bravery and resilience inspired positive change for future generations.
St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots garden, Sponsored by Project Giving Back, constructed by Gardenlink, designed by Darryl Moore and Adolfo Harrison of Cityscapes. This garden is designed as an urban pocket park. It’s ethos is based St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots programme, helping people recovering from homelessness to gain confidence and grow their skills, to be able to rebuild their lives through gardening. Much of this garden was made from reclaimed and recycled materials.
The Place2Be Secuting Tomorrow garden, designed by Jamie Butterworth, constructed by Form Plants, sponsored by Sarasin & Partners. Not only did I have the pleasure to be part of the judging panel of this garden, but I was also privileged to step into it and want a peaceful sanctuary it was.
This garden is designed as safe space where children and adults can take time to relax and talk. A garden that helps facilitate and stimulate conversation. It is a garden that is particularly special to those children who have little or no outdoor space at home. Place2Be is a children’s mental health charity providing support and training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers, and school staff. In the centre of this garden was an open space that was protected by large stone boulders and two beautiful, sculpted seats in timber where a child can feel safe and talk.
This year’s RHS Garden was designed by Joe Swift and constructed by Landform Consultants Ltd. The beautiful silhouette of a bee’s wing inspired Joe for the design of the central space which is uplifting and highlights what people can do for bees and other pollinators. With bee populations under decline and some species being lost from Britain altogether, the garden highlights that solitary and other rare bees need our urgent help. The garden also demonstrated how important it is when planting our own garden, that we take into consideration our bee populations, by including plants that are rich in nectar and pollen rich.
A Rewilding Britain Landscape, designed by Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt, constructed by Landscape Associates and sponsored by Project Giving Back. This garden shows a rewilding landscape in Southwest Britain after the introductions of beavers back into the wild.
Since the introduction of beavers back into the wild there has been a positive impact on our water ways. By gnawing down trees and building damns, beavers open up the woodland around them letting in essential light for light hungry plants to grow. The dams reduce waterflow of rivers and streams and flood the local area, creating the basic requirements for complex wetland habitats to form. These wetlands are significant for species such as otters, water voles, waterfowl, great crested newt and a large array of insects, fish, and plants. We can thank beavers for the boom in biodiversity.
Out of the Shadows was designed and constructed by Kate Gould and her team. It evokes the feeling of a contemporary spa garden utilising hardy tropical plants to create a private space that is calming and relaxing. After recent dark times through the pandemic this garden offers a safe haven for people exercise. It also provides a social space for small groups. The space is designed to revitalise both body and mind. The planting has a strong evergreen backbone and tropical theme. It is packed with interesting leaf form and clearly demonstrates that a green planting palette can be uplifting all year round.
A Garden Sanctuary sponsored by Hamptons, designed Tony Woods and constructed by Garden Club London. The cabin built by Koto Design is carbon neutral. It’s sculptural form offers a place of seclusion and meditation and an immersive space to connect with the surrounding power of nature and plants. The garden is rich in pollinating plants with water for wildlife and densely planted trees to encourage birds. Large rounded glacial boulders and natural steppingstones slow our journey to the cabin helping us to appreciate and embrace our natural surroundings.
Core Arts Front Garden Revolution was designed by Andy Smith-Williams, sponsored by Project Giving Back and constructed by Conquest Creative Spaces. It is not often that you see front gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show, so this was very refreshing. This garden shows how two households have removed the boundary between them to create a bigger more open positive space for gardening, socialising, wellbeing, and environmental gain. The garden reflects Core Arts’ mission to support people experiencing mental health difficulties by promoting social inclusion and reconnecting individuals with their communities.
The planting was right up my street (or should I say garden). Soft grasses rub alongside architectural planting, and soft tones of steely grey, silvers, blues and white predominate. The hard landscaping has been replaced with permeable surfaces for better environmental value.
The hard landscaping has been replaced with permeable surfaces for better environmental value. The Enchanted Rain Garden designed by Bea Tann, sponsored by the University of Sheffield Landscape. Bea was inspired by a rainy garden in Manchester. This container garden is designed to thrive in wet conditions. A small space packed with texture and form. I loved the stone troughs Bea had used that were covered in beautiful moss and lichen, itself an integral part of the woodland ecosystem. This small garden harnesses the magic of rainy environment.
The Still Garden designed by Jane Porter and sponsored by Qualis Taxation Services. A garden inspired by Scotland and the plants that thrive across the Highlands and Islands. The slate rescued from a disused quarry in Perthshire is set vertically like the sea walls of the western isles and constructed to resemble a glen between two mountains.
The garden celebrates reuse, repurposing, and heritage crafts. The Scottish whisky casks are repurposed and reconstructed to make new sculptural planters packed with bold foliage, textures and soft mounds.