A loving look at the Chelsea Flower Show’s beauty 47



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I don’t know about you, but the Chelsea Flower Show is something I have always wanted to go and see. Each year I line up with the pictures online and voyeuristically pore over the highlights, the masterpieces and the rather odd and smile. And this year is no different, except I get to do it with you sharing the moment this time.


The M&G Retreat

This romantic garden represents a quintessentially British restorative retreat, where visitors can unwind away from the hustle and bustle of city living.

The M&G Garden features a two-storey oak-framed building inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s writing room at Sissinghurst, a large natural swimming pond edged with water loving plants, a woodland of river birches, acacias and acers, and a garden with tumbling roses and peonies. The design draws on Jo Thompson’s local influences, from the vernacular architectural features synonymous with the Sussex and Kent countryside where she currently lives to the use of Purbeck stone from her childhood in Dorset.





The Brewin Dolphin Garden

This unique garden features more than 40,000 pieces of hand-cut slate that form the surface of the suspended platforms. These platforms hover above ferns, Aquilega, Dicentra and other woodland edge plants, highlighting the fragility of fresh summer growth. The garden forms are inspired by prehistoric dolmens and quoits as well as modernist architecture, referencing renowned sculptors such as James Turell and Richard Serra.

The garden features an underground stream that is glimpsed through well openings, one of which is illuminated by sunlight shining through a hole in the platform above. The layers of history in the garden and modern approach draw parallels with Brewin Dolphin’s history and heritage and its forward-thinking approach to business.



The Cloudy Bay Garden

Who would have thought that someone would design a garden around wine?  Harry and David Rich have designed the Cloudy Bay Garden – in association with Bord na Mona – to reflect the tasting notes and characteristics of two of Cloudy Bay’s popular wines. It is a garden in which to enjoy wine, taking you from the fresh and clean tones of a Pinot Noir with planting in red, purples and plums to the floral, dark and earthy tones of a Sauvignon Blanc with light white and green planting.

A contemporary moveable shack in the centre of the garden reflects the vineyard’s heritage, giving different perspectives of the garden and creating a fluid and adaptable space. The boundary conceals pull out seats and a table that folds down to reveal an art piece. British Native Field maple and Hawthorn trees deepen the natural feeling crafting a layered canopy over the garden. The large water feature mirrors the dimensions of the shack and portrays the clean, crisp character of the white Sauvignon Blanc.




The hidden beauty of Kranji

This garden is John Tan and Raymond Toh’s debut at RHS Chelsea and is inspired by Kranji, a suburb of Singapore with a lush natural landscape home to tropical plants, orchid farms and nature reserve wetlands. Visitors to the show will be transported to tropical Singapore. With palms, coconuts and fig flanking the garden, ferns create an oasis secreting an orchid display. This is a secret garden filled with vibrant tropical plants and orchids. The orchids draw the visitors views along the pathways through the tropical planting and past a waterfall cascading over a green wall of ferns to a pond, and house with a roof garden with creepers flowing down.




 The Time In Between

Charlie Albone has designed this garden as a space to tell his late father about his life since his passing. It is a space to reflect, contemplate, celebrate and enjoy life.

The garden, sponsored by Husqvarna and Gardena, has been created to be emotive. The first section celebrates life with beautiful and romantic planting; the water feature in the next section reflects the emotions felt at the loss of someone close, as it can empty in a matter of seconds; and the rear of the garden is an intimate space to sit, connect and communicate with loved ones.




The Laurent Chatsworth Garden

Laurent-Perrier and Chatsworth have come together to create a unique show garden, marking Chatsworth’s debut at Chelsea. The garden will showcase a shared heritage in gardens and nature, and family dwellings in beautiful grounds.

Taking the prominent ‘triangle’ position, which can be viewed from all three sides, Dan Pearson (retuning to RHS Chelsea Flower Show after more than a decade) has created a representation of a small – less trodden – part of the 105 acre Chatsworth Garden.  In line with Pearson’s passion for naturalism and the wilder side of gardening, the exhibit is inspired by Chatsworth’s ornamental Trout Stream and Paxton’s rockery. Planting reflects the lightness, freshness and delicacy of the 200-year old family owned Champagne House.




Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden

Multi-award winning designer and TV Gardener Chris Beardshaw returns to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a garden for Morgan Stanley that forms an integral part of their international Healthy Cities initiative. A theatrical representation of ‘community’, the garden will be relocated after the show to form the centrepiece in a new community project in East London. This project builds on the firm’s 40+ year commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of children through philanthropic community involvement. The formal geometry of paths, hedges and walls symbolises the physical infrastructure of a community, while vibrant plants denote the social elements within as they are diverse in origin, colour and character but work together to form a successful community.




The Living Legacy Garden

Marking the 200th anniversary of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo and Wellington’s College’s role as his living legacy, the garden progresses from the bleakness and brutality of the Battle of Waterloo 200 years ago, through the greening and flowering of the landscape towards an a representation of the iconic architecture of Wellington College, the memorial to the Duke of Wellington. The garden’s design reconciles the drama and violence of the battle with a progressive and positive future. Elements of the garden are inspired by the landscape and terrain of Waterloo which Wellington used to his advantage, the battle formations that successfully repelled attack, the regimental colours of British and Allied troops, the eight aptitudes central to the teaching of the College and the materiality of the College itself, marked with the personal carvings of current pupils and alumni.




And these are not all the gardens in the competition of the show. Voting is open now for the best garden of the show and you can see the rest of the gardens and get involved in the voting by visiting the Royal Horticultural Society’s Website.

Which is your favourite? Tell us in the comments below.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I think the gardens are all stunning but where are the flowers? Seems to me it is not a flower show but a garden show.

  2. I am going on Thursday. Am lucky enough to be here in London this year to witness this amazing event. A close friend of mine from my home town realised her dream two years ago. She was overwhelmed with the beauty of the show!

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  3. Mary, lucky you! Sure you’ll have a wonderful time. Really must catch up for that lunch when you get back and you can tell me all about it. X

  4. We were there last year, AMAZING. We were in the UK for 7 weeks & our daughter lives in London & surprised us with tickets to the show, we spent the whole day there. It was definitely a highlight of our trip.

  5. I have been to the Chelsea and, while it is indeed beautiful, the annual one in Melbourne is probably as good. The Keukenhof in Amsterdam is stunning.

  6. I did like the Kranji garden and the M&G mystery garden. Thanks for putting them up…I,d love to see them too.

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