by Dieneke Ferguson and Barbara Orton
The Chelsea Flower Show takes place just before my birthday and for the last 3 years I had wanted to visit the Chelsea Flower Show as I had never been. The plan was to book in December and ask who of my friends is interested.
That didn’t work out as no one really didn’t want to commit so much in advance, and with quite a few of them living in Holland, I don’t think they realised what an amazing event the Chelsea Flower Show is.
So I left it till really late and two weeks before the show started, I decided to join and see whether there are any tickets left. Luckily it so happened that just some tickets were released so I bought4 tickets, the maximum allocation of tickets that a member could buy and then contacted those of my friends who love anything with flora and fauna. None of us had visited before.
This would be an early birthday celebration and one of my friends suggested to have a picknick. And as I love water and the river, we also decided to travel part of the way to the Chelsea Flower Show by boat.
We had selected the afternoon slot and decided to arrive early so that we would have sufficient time in the show itself.
Unfortunately it was a rainy day with some dry moments during the day.
After having queued for about half an hour they let us in early 3.00 instead of 3.30. We bought a catalogue and as it still was raining we decided to have our picnick first: Cava, Eton Mess, French cheese and baguettes.
Then we split up to look at all that the Chelsea Flower Show has to offer.
I was particularly interested in looking at the Chelsea Flower Show from the angle of a product designer. Having spoken to some designers I know I was surprised to hear that so many had not been to the Chelsea Flower Show ever but would love to go one day, as myself.
Interestingly Paul Smith visits the Chelsea Flower Show each year to get inspiration for his designs. Equally many of the Hidden Art E-Shop designers have flowers as a theme or source of inspiration as you can see from the Flower Collection on the Hidden Art E-Shop
Some gardens were specifically inspired by design movements such as Urban Retreat by the Bauhaus and the Telegraph Garden by the Dutch Stijl Movement.
In others the story of the artisan is incorporated into the garden such as in the Old Forge Garden in the Artisan Gardens section. Or the embroidered heraklidc banners of the Magna Carta Garden.
The Artist Retreats were presented by the New Craftsman who selected a group of makers to represent their inspiration, process and work This included some great work from Gareth Neal.
The Great Pavilion was a wealth of colour and colour combinations which especially would inspire any creative person.
The roots of the Chelsea Flower Show go back to 1862 when the Royal Horticultural Society held its first Great Spring Show at its garden in Kensington. Then it moved to Temple Gardens by London’s Inns of Court, and from there transferred to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in 1913. Royal Patronage makes it the opening event of the season.
The show’s great strength is not just that gardening crosses social boundaries but that great artistry and skill are in display in ‘the creation of gardens that would take years to grown in a natural environment – ‘it’s a great piece of theatre, a fantastically british thing, both grand and ordinary.
This year there were 32 spectacular gardens. It is a lot to take in, particularly when it is the first time. So we didn’t see it all .
Gardening is the great British art. With its informal romantic style, the sort of garden that vies the impression that the things in it practically grew themselves.
Chelsea is there: and summer is coming at last.
Designer Dan Pearson’s woodland garden on the Triangle won best for his show for his garden for Laurent Perrier. His woodland garden is inspired by the Derbyshire countryside and involved placing of some 100 rocks to make a naturalistic looking stream
On the main avenue there are 15 show gardens. They occupy the largest plots of the show with gardens representing features from Lesotho, France and Britain. They are backed by large corporations who commission a designer to develop his or her idea.
Hope in Vulnerability
Designer: Matthew Keightley
Sentebale provides healhcare and education to the most vulnerable children in Lesotho so they have a chance of leading healthy and productive lives especially those affected with Aids. Sentebala, translates in English to ‘Forget me not’, was born out of Prince Harry’s visit to Lesotho working as a volunteer on a number of local welfare projects. www.sentebale.org
Sponsored by the David Brownlow Charitable Foundation
The garden consists of the rough, wild landscape of Lesotho. That is complemented with a complex yet balanced planting scheme which celebrates the vibrant colour combinations and fascinating textures found in this mountain range. A small hut reflects the layout of the village and the camp culminates with a rock and waterscape. It received the People’s Choice Award this year.
The Homebase Garden, Urban Retreat
Designer: Adam Frost
In partnership with We are Macmillan Cancer Support
Designed as an Urban Community Garden, its design is inspired by the early 20th century Bauhaus movement. Filling the geometric borders of the telegraph Garden with colour-themed blocks of foliage and flowers, in shades of red, blue, yellow, white and green. The garden blends modern materials like concrete and corten steel with the softer elements of natural, to demonstrate how our towns and cities can become more green
Adam Frost said: “Bauhaus promised a reunion of man with nature through community living and it’s this spirit that I want to reflect in the Homebase garden.”
The Telegraph Garden
This garden is inspired by the Stijl Movement. It reflects strong rectilinear geometry with planting blocks contributing colour and textural relief. Trees and hedges introduce vertical detailing. Vibrant primary colours and closely related tones used by the Stijl Movement are emphasised with restful and balancing foils of green and white.
Here are 8 smaller plots, and each garden has a story to tell.
Ishihara Kazuyuk’s Japanese Edo Design and Kamelai Min Zaal’s the beauty of Islam
The Edo period in Japan was a time when horticulture became open to all Japanese people, which is reflected in this garden. It is a garden designed for everyone, regardless of their class and wealth. The house and garden are closely linked, providing views from different angles.
The Old Forge
Designers: Jodie Fedorko and Martin Anderson
for the Motor Neurone Disease Association
The garden takes a nostalgic look at the past when wildflowers were more common. The once-occupied forge is now in a state of neglect due to the blacksmith’s inability to work because he has motor neurone disease.
The base areas of land have been left entirely to nature and are now populated by native wildflowers that have settled, naturalised and flourished. The horse chestnut tree, stream and artefacts all serve as a reminder of a bygone age when the village blacksmith was an important artisan.
Runnymede Surrey Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Garden
Magna Carta was sealed by King John on 15 June 2015 at Runnymede, Surrey. Originally it was drawn up as a peace treaty to resolve disputes between King John and 25 Anglo-Norman barons. However successive generations have interpreted and used Magna Carta for their own purposes resulting in the document’s longevity
The formal layout, planting and features are evocative of gardens of the medieval period. A wattle arch over a turf bench provides support for climbing plants such as old roses and honeysuckle. Wattle obelisks, raised beds and a fountain, add to the setting, it heraldic pennants and shields of the 25 barons as other artefacts. The garden’’s symmetry also symbolises the new law and order of the time.
Rhoda Nevins, the creator of the 12 panel Magna Carta Embroidery project has designed the detail of two heraldic banners for the garden.
Breast Cancer Haven Garden
Sponsored by Nelsons, with landscape architect Sarah Eberle and Willow Sculpture Tom Hare.
The Haven is a national charity which provides personalised care and support to help people through the experience of breast cancer.
The Artisan Retreats
This year the RHS has worked with the New Craftsman to select a group of makers to represent their inspiration, process and work within the artisan retreats.
Combining age-old traditions with contemporary design each Artisan Retreat exemplifies the breath of skill, material and technical mastery that informs the creative practice of all those they work with. This includes work from Gareth Neal .
With more than 100 exhibits the focus here is more on the plants rather than the garden. Here you will see both scent and plant perfection.
And in addition to the gardens and the Great Pavilion there was anything you would need for your garden. As I am an avid frog collector I quite liked this
There were also spectacular garden sculptures. I particularly liked the Horse sculptures by Hamish Mackie outside of the Great Pavilion.
All in all and despite the day it was a very enjoyable day. I could see how designers get inspired by what is on offer at the Chelsea Flower Show and I definitely will visit again next year. .