The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show. Award winning garden designers from all over the world, together with their teams, made up of some of the best landscape architects, project managers, builders, technicians, horticulturalists, artists and crafts people, have been working for the past three weeks to turn The Royal Hospital’s grounds at Chelsea into a sea of gardening ideas and innovation. Featuring spectacular, awe inspiring, thought provoking, and exquisite show gardens, visitors attending The RHS Chelsea Flower Show will find inspiration at every turn.
At The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, visitors can see the latest innovations and garden technology, together with the newest plants, which represent the latest in plant breeding, that are released exclusively each year at this illustrious show.
Highlights of this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show include specially designed floral archways at The Bull Ring and London Gate entrances, which were designed to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday; a 6,000 square foot station featuring an 80ft carriage from the Belmond British Pullman, which has been planted up inside the Great Pavilion by award winning Devon Nursery Bowdens. There’s an immersive rose tunnel created by award winning artist Joseph Massie, an acoustic garden inspired by world famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, and a garden designed especially for Great Ormond Street Hospital by Chris Beardshaw. Rosy Hardy’s first Show Garden highlights the fragility of chalk streams, whilst Diarmuid Gavin has taken inspiration from William Heath Robinson for his British Eccentrics Garden, plus horticultural inspiration and plants from all over the world.
Here’s an insight into just some of the stunning gardens, plants, exhibits, and of course the people who have collaborated to produce the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016, which is sponsored by M&G Investments………….
Floral designer Shane Connolly, designed this floral archway for the Bull Ring entrance to The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, in celebration of her majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday. The flowers used to create this floral exhibit were all donated by British growers, and students from UK floristry colleges helped with the installation of this floral tribute.
The London Road entrance was decorated to celebrate her majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday, and to welcome visitors to The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
This immersive rose tunnel installation celebrates the beauty of fresh roses, it was created by designer Joseph Massie, especially for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
David Austin Roses and Liccy Dahl launch Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ to commemorate the centenary year of Roald Dahl’s birth, in The Great Pavilion, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Liccy Dahl unveiling the new David Austin English rose which has been named in honour of her late husband, Roald Dahl, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Jonathan Hogarth, of Hogarth Hostas, pictured tending to his display of small and miniature Hostas, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Stephen Welch and Alison Doxey pictured with the Artisan Garden they designed for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. The Garden Bed a partnership with Asda, was designed by Stephen Welch & Alison Doxey, and built by Frosts Landscapes. To celebrate their 50th birthdays, lifelong friends Alison Doxey and Stephen Welch have joined forces to create this Artisan Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. Designed to show how easily patients’ beds can be moved into the garden, and demonstrate how this simple concept improves the wellbeing of patients and their families. Stephen and Alison took their inspiration from a garden Stephen designed at Les Bourgs Hospice in Guernsey, providing a view of the garden from a patient’s bed, to show the patient’s perspective. Within the garden, Alison, an accomplished florist, has constructed a quilt made from naturally gathered materials for the symbolic patient’s bed. Using 15 meters of plant material, Alison has crafted the most beautiful quilt, by weaving and intwining the natural materials to create a quilt to cover the hospice bed inside the garden.
The Garden Bed a partnership with Asda, was designed by Stephen Welch & Alison Doxey, and built by Frosts Landscapes.
Rachel De Thame is pictured in front of the Show Garden that James Basson designed for L’Occitane, at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Senri- Sentei – Garage Garden was designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara and built by Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory. This Artisan garden was sponsored by the Henri-Sentei Project. Garden designer Kazuyuki Ishihara has fond memories of visiting the UK ten years ago, where he was moved by the lovingly maintained antique cars he saw. These memories have inspired the creation of Kazuyuki Ishihara’s garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the planting has been selected to compliment the colour of the car, uniting the car, the garage, and the garden. This is a two tier garden, the lower level providing covered parking for a car, and the top tier providing the family with a garden.
Senri- Sentei – Garage Garden was designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara and built by Ishihara Kazuyuki Design Laboratory. This Artisan garden was sponsored by the Henri-Sentei Project.
Vestra Wealth’s Garden of Mindful Living was designed by Paul Martin and built by Beautiful Horizon Landscape. Designed as a contemporary garden, for a busy city resident who requires space to unwind after a busy day at work, The Vestra Weath’s Garden of Mindful Living features soft planting with Primulas adding colour and multi stemmed trees bringing dappled shade to this restful space.
Diarmuid Gavin pictured adding the finishing touches to The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden. This Show Garden was designed by Diarmuid Gavin, and built by Diarmuid Gavin Designs. The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden appears at first glance to be a traditionally inspired garden, with influences from arts and crafts and the gardens of British stately homes, with lots of topiary providing regimentation and structure, together with a calming Italianate sunken water feature, but every fifteen minutes the garden comes to life, entertaining visitors with its madness, as box balls bob up and down, trees twirl, a herb bed rotates, window boxes move up and down, and an octagonal folly raises its hat! This garden is designed to entertain visitors with its eccentric influences and inspiration from William Heath Robinson, British humour and eccentricity.
Dactylorhiza ‘Sir Simon Milton’ (Aristocrat x D. purpurella) is a new hybrid, hardy orchid, it was launched at The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. Pictured in The Sir Simon Milton Foundation Urban Connections Garden.
Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant pictured with The Modern Slavery Garden she designed for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016. This Fresh Garden was built by The Outdoor Room and sponsored by The Modern Slavery Campaign. In March 2015, the British Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act, The Modern Slavery Garden is a celebration of that day. The Modern Slavery Garden is also about looking to the future, when there will be no slaves. The brightly coloured front doors featured in this garden, symbolise the everyday houses and streets that we live on, in contrast, the centre of the garden conflicts with the cheerfully coloured doors, its darker centre depicts the harsh reality – that in the UK there are people held captive and forced to work against their will. The Modern Slavery Garden is designed to raise awareness of the plight of the 13,000 people, who today live and work as slaves in the UK, and the 27 million slaves held worldwide. William Wilberforce stood under an English oak tree in Sussex, when he pledged to dedicate his life to ending slavery in the 1800s. This oak tree lives on today. As a reference to Wilberforce’s pledge and to signify hope, steadfastness and dependability, an oak tree stands, as a prominent feature within the garden. A path designed to signify release and freedom, follows open doors and leads out of the garden.
Nick Bailey pictured in The Winton Capital Beauty of Mathematics Garden he designed for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
The Winton Capital Beauty of Mathematics Garden was designed by Nick Bailey, Head Gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden, and built by Garden link. The design focuses on the mathematical patterns that appear in nature – such as the Golden Ratio, these patterns are expressed throughout both garden’s structure, the layout of the planting and the featured plants. Plants used to demonstrate the mathematical properties include Aloe polyphylla with its spiral form, Gleditsia triacanthos which has a complex but regular leaf pattern, and Helianthus annuus, the sunflower, whose flower head is made up of hundreds of tiny florets laid out in a double–spiral that follows the Fibonacci sequence.
Garden Designer Lee Bestall in The Sir Simon Milton Foundation Urban Connections Garden he designed for the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. This Fresh Garden was sponsored by Victoria Business Improvement District. This Fresh Garden was designed by Lee Bestall and built by Jon Housley. Isolation and loneliness is a problem for our society, many older people, particularly in urban environments, can feel lonely and isolated. The Urban Connections Garden demonstrates how the power of love and friendship can remove these feelings of melancholy, gloom and loneliness, by bringing people together in high quality communal gardens that bring about a sense of belonging, a feeling of happiness with the opportunity to make new friends and rejoice in the feeling of companionship. Garden designer, Lee Bestall, has carefully chosen the plants for The Sir Simon Milton Foundation Urban Connections Garden, choosing symbiotic plants, that are known to grow better together, to further re-enforces the message of the garden – that people are better together. The silver birch trees that feature in this garden are designed to act like beacons, drawing people in, and guiding visitors to the oak seating, where they can relax, enjoy the garden and meet new friends. A new hardy, hybrid orchid – Dactylorhiza ‘Simon Milton’ is featured in this garden, named after the conservative politician, who died in April 2011, aged 49. Sir Simon Milton’s legacy and his beliefs of providing training and jobs to young people, and including the older generation within a community that values and appreciates their contribution and encourages their involvement inspires The Sir Simon Milton Foundation and its charitable work.
The M&G Garden was designed by Cleve West and built by Swatton Landscape. The inspiration for the M&G Garden came from garden designer Cleve West’s memories of time spent during his teenage years, in an ancient oak woodland, in Exmoor National Park. Cleve opted to create a contemporary design, which features aspects of the ancient woodland that inspired him, instead of recreating a particular area of Exmoor National Park. Oaks – Quercus pubescens, form the main structure of this garden, they evoke the sponsor, M&G’s, values of strength, growth, longevity and reliability.
Ann Innes with her and Morrice’s amazing display of potatoes in the Great Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
The St John’s Hospice – A Modern Apothecary was designed by Jekka McVicar and built by Crocus, this garden was sponsored by St. John’s Hospice. Conversations with medical professionals about what we can do to improve our own health influenced Jekka’s design for this special Show Garden for St John’s Hospice. Jekka took inspiration from a quote from Hippocrates “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” and from the healing power of plants and gardens, which is celebrated in this calming, peaceful garden, that’s designed to rehabilitate the all of the senses. Jekka has chosen many red- leaved plants that are high in anthocyanidins which are strongly linked to oxidative stress protection, so you will see Atriplex, Beta, Brassica and Lactuca featured prominently in the planting. A delightful feature, that you might not notice at first glance is a herb ley, comprised of native plants, such as sorrel, chicory and salad burnet growing together with grasses, used instead of grass. The herb ley can be eaten as it grows, or it can be cut as you would a traditional grass lawn, when it will envelope the garden in a wonderful aroma and fragrance as the ley is cut and the herbs are cut and crushed as the ley is mown.
Monty Don broadcasting from Cleve West’s M&G garden.
The Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital was designed by Chris Beardshaw, and built by Chris Beardshaw Ltd at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. When the Show closes, this garden will be re-located its permanent home at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where it will provide a relaxed, informal, restful space for the children who are undergoing treatment and their families. This special garden features naturalistic planting, together with hedges, Acers and Cornus, to create an environment which provides a habitat for wildlife, as well as people.
Dame Evelyn Glennie entertaining the audience playing in the Papworth Trust – Together We Can Garden. This Artisan Garden was designed by Peter Eustance of Symphonic Gardens and built by Landform Consultants. Disability charity The Papworth Trust, who encourage others to ‘Help us create a world where disabled people are seen for what they can do’, set out to create a garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016, taking inspiration from the world famous solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. Dame Evelyn Glennie is profoundly deaf, her motto is ‘Teach the world to listen’. Peter has designed a water marimba at the centre of the garden which operates as the garden’s acoustic pulse, harnessing materials from the garden’s landscape – sun, water, wood, and earth, combining them so that the garden itself operates as a musical instrument. The shape and structure of the garden have been inspired by the shape of an ear, and sound waves drifting out towards the audience are referenced by the York stone, which has been precisely sawn, and then arranged in concentric radial patterns.
The L’Occitane Garden was designed by James Basson and built by Peter Dowle. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of beauty brand L’Occitane, designer James Basson, has focused on L’Occitane’s roots and how it was created in 1976 in Haute Provence. Here an old steam distiller had been discarded and was found by Olivier Baussan, who used it to produce essential oils from locally grown lavender and rosemary, which he sold at the local markets. Garden designer James Basson, lives in the south of France, he’s passionate about the local landscape and its history, and in this garden at the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, James recreated the harsh beauty of the natural landscape of Haute Provence, using 200 plants native to Haute Provence to transport visitors to this area of France.
The Hartley Botanic Garden was designed by Catherine MacDonald from Landform Consults Ltd. The inspiration for Catherine’s design for The Hartley Botanic glasshouse, which is designed to appear as if it is emerging from a pool, came from a design by Thomas Heatherwick for the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstock Mill in Whitchurch, England. Hartley Botanic are known for their traditional glasshouses, but they also create bespoke designs, the glasshouse in their Show Garden features a glass floor, which allows visitors the opportunity to see the water flowing beneath them. Catherine MacDonald is also working on Jo Thompson’s Show Garden and Watahan & Co’s Show Garden as well as The Hartley Botanic Trade exhibit, as well as The Hartley Botanic Garden – so she’s pretty busy!
The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk was designed by Rosy Hardy and built by Bowles & Wyer Contracts. This is Rosy Hardy’s first Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk was designed by Rosy Hardy and built by Bowles & Wyer Contracts. This is Rosy Hardy’s first Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk delivers an important message to highlight the importance, and the fragility, of chalk streams and the dangers they are enduring. Climate change, pollution, and man’s own intervention have all contributed to the loss of chalk streams, which provide a beautiful, unique and vital habitat to many plants and a vast array of wildlife. There are now only 200 chalk streams flowing on Earth, the majority of these reside in the south of England, where they are in danger, threatened by climate change, pollution, and abstraction. The River Test, which flowers through Freefolk in Hampshire is a good example of a chalk stream, and accordingly has been represented in this special garden. Chalk streams are fed from groundwater aquifers, water is filtered through the chalk, this filtering produces water of high clarity and high mineral content, the water is enriched with calcium, iron and other minerals found within the chalk. This high quality water, provides a rich habitat and an eco-system for a vast array of wildlife – all aspects of the food chain thrive in and around chalk streams. Insects and other invertebrates prosper in the this special environment, in turn they provide a rich food source for the fish that live in these crystal clear waters. Watercress, water crowfoot, and starworts, are among some of the plants that flourish in the gravel beds of chalk streams, providing shelter from predators for fishes. Many plants grow readily on the river edges and margins, creating a beautiful, picturesque environment that should be celebrated and enjoyed. Sadly, the reality today is that only 25% of chalk streams are in good condition, abstraction for drinking water has caused some chalk streams to dry up and disappear, and pollution and run off from agricultural farming has contaminated waters. Fish farms and commercial growing of watercress near to chalk streams can also upset the balance of these fragile waters and environments. The Brewin Dolphin Garden – Forever Freefolk, invites visitors to see the potential for positive change and renewal, encouraging us to protect, value and look after the precious chalk steams we have remaining, whilst highlighting the sense of loss felt for the chalk streams that have now been lost forever.
The Telegraph Garden was designed by Andy Sturgeon and built by Crocus. Inspired by the sense of awe and wonderment that he felt visiting The National History Museum, for the first time as a child, Andy Sturgeon has used these memories as his inspiration for his design for The Telegraph Garden, to evoke delight and interest in both children and adults alike. With unusual plants selected for The Telegraph Garden, all of which are all found growing in arid conditions, though not usually together – the plants used originate from 32 different countries, this garden is designed to cope with climate change and increasingly dry conditions. The dramatic bronze fins represent an ancient mountain range, with a stream of melt water below. Andy Sturgeon was inspired by the dramatic geological changes that have taken place during the life time of the earth, and how these events have shaped and changed the landscape. This garden reminds us all that we are only present for a fleeting moment of the life cycle of the earth.
Husqvarna presents Support, The Husqvarna Garden, this garden was designed by Charlie Albone and built by Conway Landscaping. Charlie Albone took his inspiration from Melbourne, Australia when he was designing Support, The Husqvarna Garden, a supportive space designed to help visitors relax and retreat from the stresses of fast paced modern life. A sunken lawn lowers the visitor within the garden, where they are surrounded by interesting and exotic plants from Australia, together with traditional perennials from Europe. The garden is enveloped by two large specimen Banksia, which are underplanted with Acacia glaucoptera and Acacia ‘Limelight’.
Cleve West talking to Monty Don and the BBC.
The Garden of Potential was designed by Daniel Bristow and Sarah Page (Propagating Dan) and built by Mark Wallinger. This Fresh Garden was sponsored by GreenWood Forest Park. Featuring the unpopular and almost universally abhorred Leylandii, together with the equally disliked Equisetum arvense, also known as common horsetail, this Fresh Garden provokes its visitors with its inclusion of these unusual show plants and its quirky design. Visitors might be interested to find Diphylleia grayi, also known as the glass plant – as its petals become transparent when it rains,included in this garden, alongside Schefflera species, which are also known as umbrella plants. The centrepiece of this garden is a giant 5 tonne granite boulder, which is balanced upon the roof of an oak pavilion, underneath of which is a ceramic sculpture, created by Jesse Wine. A path leading into the garden, quickly changes to become a fence, tipping, or directing visitors into the garden, a neatly clipped box ball has been symbolically relegated from the garden, and sits behind the fence.
Bowden Hostas exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 featured an 80ft Belmond British Pullman carriage.
Designer Phillip Johnson and his team with their installation of nearly 300,000 knitted and crocheted poppies, as a tribute to those have served in war during the 100 years since the First World War.
Other articles that may interest you………………
To see photographs from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018,
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To see photographs from The 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show,
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To read about the new rose introductions from David Austin Roses for 2016,
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To read about long flowering container plants that will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects to your garden,
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To read my review of Trug Makers hand-made trugs,
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To see photographs from The RHS London Orchid Show 2016,
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For ideas of important, historical and beautiful gardens to visit in Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex,
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To read about terrariums and bottle gardens,
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