Chelsea Flower Show – Review in 2020

Dieneke Ferguson and Barbara Orton

1 June 2020

2020 will be known as the year of the Coronavirus when all activities stood still or postponed. We are still in the middle of it, we won’t know how it all will end up, or what’s around the corner. Nor what businesses will be able to survive or not, nor how it will have an impact on our future daily life.

One of the many events that has been postponed is the Chelsea Flower Show, which should have taken place from 19th to 23rd May. Instead of their usual ‘live’ coverage, the BBC this week featured a selection from the best of the last 10 years, which culminated in the plant and garden of the decade award. The winner was the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden by Mark Gregory. They included clips from past events interspersed with current commentary to make it relevant for today’s TV visitor.

The Chelsea Flower Show is not cheap. It wasn’t until 2015 that I visited for the first time as a birthday present to myself and three of my best friends who are all great flower lovers and growers. As my birthday treat – 25 May, it was great to celebrate it with some of my best friends.

Here is a selection from the shows in 2015, 2018 and 2019.

THE HOMEBASE GARDEN, URBAN RETREAT, 2015

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.”

Urban Retreat, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

Urban Retreat, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

The Old Forge, 2015

Designers: Jodie Fedorko and Martin Anderson
for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

This garden was designed and planted as an homage to the local artisans of the past and the typical village gardens of the past – the setting is an old smithy where the village blacksmith plied his trade. The once-occupied forge is now in a state of neglect due to the blacksmith’s inability to work, a sufferer of motor neurone disease.  In this garden new crafts occupy the place of the older blacksmith’s craft. These traditional Trugs of Cornwall(?) were the handmade baskets used for picking and carrying flowers in the past, now revived and revalued, made for the present.

This artisan garden takes a nostalgic look at the past when wildflowers would be most commonly found in cottage gardens. The base areas of land have been left entirely to nature and are now populated by native wildflowers that have naturalised, self seeded and flourished. The horse chestnut tree, stream and artefacts all serve as a reminder of a natural bygone age when the village blacksmith was one of the most important craftsmen of their day.

The Old Forge, Chelsea Flower Show, 2015

The Old Forge, Chelsea Flower Show, 2015

THE ARTISAN RETREATS, 2015

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 .

Gareth Neal and Natalie Melton (The new Craftsman) at Artisan Retreat, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

Gareth Neal and Natalie Melton (The new Craftsman) at Artisan Retreat, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

GREAT PAVILLION 2015

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.

Thai Orchids, the Great Pavillion, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

Thai Orchids, the Great Pavillion, Chelsea Flower Show 2015

SPACES TO GROW GARDENS, 2018

All these urban spaces deliver a message through their design and horticulture. They offer a new source of ideas and trends for everyone showing how to incorporate plants into our lives.

Pearlfisher Garden 2018

The Pearlfisher Garden has been designed to highlight the threat of plastic waste to the world’s largest garden, the underwater garden of our oceans. A series of aquatic tanks highlight the threat that plastic poses to the food chain. A sculpture of Jason de Caires Taylor;’s Coral Man illustrates the effect of coral bleaching whilst a boundary wall made from 500 recyclable plastic bottles highlights the amount of plastic thrown into the ocean every 2.5 seconds.
A celebration the largest “garden” in the world, the one underneath our great oceans. It aims to highlight the beauty of this underwater world whilst acting as a warning of what is at risk.
Designer: John Warland and Pearlfisher Team
Sponsor Pearlfisher

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Spaces to Grow: The pearl Fisher Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Spaces to Grow: The pearl Fisher Garden

Myeloma UK Garden, 2018

Silver-Gilt Winner

The garden design has been inspired by the story of Peter King, who lost his wife Gill and brother Graham to myeloma in 2016. The large-scale head and shoulder sculpture at the centre of the garden is modelled on Peter and Gill’s daughter Gemma and represents the role of the carer. The boulders represent plasma cells for which the cancer arises, as well as symbols of the barriers and obstacles people face in care

Various plants represent how intervention from Myeloma UK, medicine carers and family help someone who is living with myeloma.

There is no defined path through the garden, which mirrors the situation many myeloma patients face.

A contemporary design with a unique, bold sculpture, this garden aims to demonstrate the work of Myeloma UK and what its medical profession and carers do to help myeloma sufferers and their families.

Designer: John Everiss  and Francesca Murrell
Sponsor: Myeloma UK

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Spaces to Grow: The Myeloma UK Garden

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Spaces to Grow: The Myeloma UK Garden

THE GREAT PAVILLION 2018

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. The Great Pavillion.

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. The Great Pavillion.

JARDIN BLANC 2018

This is a garden that is designed to enjoy food and drink. Offering entertainment and a dining experience. Tom Raffield’s Lights were displayed proudly at the entrance.

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Lights from designer Tom Raffield in Jardin Blanc

Chelsea Flower Show 2018. Lights from designer Tom Raffield in Jardin Blanc

Gardening will Save the World by Ikea and Tom Dixon 2019

Silver Medal Winner

Tom Dixon and IKEA were curious to see how they could make a positive impact on what we put on our plates, and hence our planet by exploring urban growing. Through their garden, they use democratic design principles to develop sustainable food growth and consumption within our homes and urban communities. Because healthy food should be available to many people. The garden explores the dichotomy of the hyper-natural and hypertech to encourage an independent approach to gardening.

The ground level of the garden is a horticultural laboratory. Here, hydroponic and aeroponic technology is shown to grow edibles and plants. The second level of the garden is an oasis of greenery, with a naturalistic aesthetic. The elevated garden encourages visitors to immerse themselves in a canopy-like ecosystem.

Gardening will Save the World, by Ikea and Tom Dixon, Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Force of Nature Garden by Tom Raffield 2019

Tom Raffield showcases a new collection of flowing steam bent planters and screens which take centre stage in a new unique, architectural stand focused on wellbeing, biophilic design and zero waste.

The courtyard-esque space showcases Tom Raffield’s new design process which combines their traditional steam bending technique with complex parametric modelling to create the eye-catching biomorphic architecture and planters.

Force of nature Garden by Tom Raffield, Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Welcome to Yorkshire by Mark Gregory 2019

Gold Medal Winner, Best Show Garden and People’s Choice Award. In 2020 it received the Garden of the Decade Award

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden is inspired by the county’s proud history of industry, manufacturing and innovation, as well as its stunning natural environment.

Reminiscent of the urban regeneration that has taken place along many of Yorkshire’s canals, the garden consists of a towpath running next to a perennial meadow that borders a pair of narrow canal lock gates and a lock keeper’s lodge with private garden and vegetable patch.

This slice of Yorkshire focuses on the beauty of the natural and the cultivated, it celebrates the area’s industrial heritage and champions the rich diversity of native flora alongside cultivated varieties.

The atmospheric garden strikes a balance between the industrial and the beautiful, demonstrating that a working lock can also be a place of tranquillity and charm.

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden. Designed by: Mark.Gregory. Sponsored by: Welcome to Yorkshire. RHS Chelsea.Flower Show 2019. Stand no. 324

The Dubai Majlis Garden by Thomas Hoblyn, 2019

Silver Gilt Medal Winner

 The Dubai Majlis Garden is inspired by the sculptural beauty found in arid landscapes, from wind-blown sand dunes and fluvially eroded rock to the manmade hillside terraces and the goat-browsed topiary-esque plants that colonise them. A sand-dune-inspired pavilion is the main destination and provides a calm and contemplative space for young people to meet.

A water source seemingly connects to an oasis-like pool, metaphorically alluding to nature’s ability to find its way around obstacles potentially mirroring people’s ability to innovate and think their way around challenges.

The garden uses materials to evoke a Middle Eastern feel such as white limestone and contrasting burnt Sienna gravel that mimics eroded rock and ferruginous soils often seen in arid locations. Traditional earth rendering techniques have been used to create sand-dune-like shapes.

The Dubai Majlis Garden. Designed by: Thomas Hoblyn.Sponsored by: Dubai. RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019..Stand no. 325

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