As the dawn lifts on this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Main Avenue is liberally seasoned with glorious show gardens to inspire and enthrall the crowds. Once again the garden designers have worked their magic with the plant nurseries and growers and landscapers to create gardens fit for the greatest show on earth. The sun has shone, the skies are blue and the gates open to the public tomorrow (Tuesday).
With ten show gardens, plus the RHS Feel Good Garden, seven Artisan gardens and not forgetting the eight Space to Grow Gardens there is a huge variety of styles, sizes and themes to tantalise and wow everyone and by the time the show opens the judges will have awarded their medals. 2018 will go down in history as a very excellent vintage when it comes to the show gardens. The diversity of gardens this year is fantastic, the planting is magical and the whole show a real sight to behold. Here are five that stopped me in my tracks and made me take a second look. In no particular order
The David Harber and Savills Garden 322
This garden melds contemporary and classical artworks with rich and inspiring planting. It is a theatre set just waiting for the characters within the performance to bring it even further alive. But the plants and the sculpture capture the moment and create their own charming performance, dancing in the light and alive with the whisper of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. In the afternoon light it glows with energy and showcases the layers of the garden as each is picked out in the light. Soft grasses and perennials blend into rich under planting of peonies, lupins and geums, while the eye is drawn through the wormholes of time to the dramatic Aeon sculpture depicting a nucleus of energy.
The Pearl Fisher Garden – Turning the tide on plastic 284
It’s the hot topic of the moment and how relevant to see it depicted here at the flower show. For the ocean floor and all its flora and fauna are the largest garden on earth, beneath the waves this precious landscape is the underwater garden of our oceans. This garden creatively and subtly draws attention to the impact of pollution. Imagine if 32% of plastic waste was dumped in our gardens, that’s what is flowing into the oceans, equivalent to a truckload every minute. The garden shows the dichotomy of the beauty and destruction in our oceans. Complete with aquatic tanks featuring an underwater world and flanked with boundary walls made of iconic Ty Nant water bottles and richly planted with succulents and exotics to represent the jewels of nature.
The Seedlip Garden 291
The humble garden pea is the inspiration for this extraordinary garden at RHSChelsea2018. The Seedlip garden celebrates the pea and three men from different centuries responsible for pioneering its cultural, culinary and scientific significance.
The garden epitomizes the pea in all its forms. It features within the rich planting scheme creating a rich textural tapestry of foliage and flowers, all from the pea family. The garden path is formed of circular segments, like peas, leading to the Peavilion, a shrine of artifacts and ephemera all related and relevant to peas.
The LG Eco-City Garden 321
On a hot summers day there is something very refreshing about lemon yellow, cream and white flowers. It’s a clean and refreshing palette of colours in a garden that has been designed to be naturalistic, supportive of pollinators and using plants and planting to reduce pollution too. Not bad for a garden built on the edge and within the city of London. It’s an Eco City garden complete with vertical vegetable and herb farm powered by solar lighting and complete with running water to absorb noise pollution too. But perhaps when we judge these gardens under strict RHS criteria we should also take a vote from the pollinators themselves. The flowers in this garden were a hit with the bees, in their search for pollen and nectar.
The Supershoes, Laced with Hope Garden 561
The colour and vibrancy of the backdrop to this garden stops you in your tracks. The artwork not only frames this garden but also tells the story of the Supershoes that a child diagnosed with cancer is given to empower them. It’s a charity that uses art to inspire the children in their fight against cancer giving them a psychological boost in stressful times. The Charity Supershoes uses art on shoes to inspire the sick children; the shoes are hand painted by a Super Artist to represent the child and all the things that she or he likes. Bright planting and paving inlaid with words represent moments in time, reflecting the mixture of emotions and challenges being faced while facing cancer. It’s a vibrant, colourful space, held together with a lace sculpture that binds everything together.