Anticipating RHS Chelsea Flower Show, May 2019, and highlights from last year’s dazzling show

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Chelsea Flower Show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is world renowned, truly glamorous, and quintessentially British. Never more so than this year. There will be culinary delights at Jardin Blanc, that will need to be pre-booked! It will be located in a peaceful corner of the show, with menus designed by Raymond Blanc, no less. Andy Sturgeon is creating a show garden inspired by rock formations on an Australian beach. Mark Gregory has taken canals as his inspiration for his ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ show garden. Sarah Eberle is designing a garden that considers climate change and its impact on forests in her ‘Resilience Garden’. The Artisan Gardens may be on a slightly smaller scale, but they weave their magic through ‘story telling’, and exquisite planting and inspired use of space. The Great Pavilion, might need to expand a little to contain 80 exhibitors, including the classic David Austen roses. The Artisan Studios will show-case sculptures for gardens, botanical inspired interiors, and a writer’s retreat, inspired by Virginia Woolf’s writing lodge.

Memories from RHS Chelsea 2018, Words: Jean Hill

The weather was perfect, dappled sunshine with a slight breeze. Main Avenue was my starting point. The Show Gardens are designed to be show stoppers. With the planting the overall impression is feathery, pastel, early summer blues and mauves and wafting waving grasses. There are memorable exceptions. Livid orange poppies glowed in arid surroundings. A lemon tree groaned under the weight of its sharp acid fruit. The ‘Best in Show’ was the Morgan & Stanley NSPCC Show Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw. It combined woodland plants, a pavilion and a canal of soothing flowing water. The standout shrub was a vibrant ruby rhododendron. It was an exquisite garden: a metaphor for an emotional transit from confusion to calm. A safe, secure and sensory space a child would love to explore.

Charity gardens inspire with a powerful message and vibrant designs. Some were standout. The Lemon Tree Trust supports gardening initiatives in refugee communities as a way to restore dignity, purpose, and cultural identity. ‘Supershoes’ gifts painted ‘super-shoes’ or trainers for children fighting cancer. Children customise and create their own decorations for foot-wear, which proved great fun and scope for creativity. ‘A Life Without Walls’ was conceived by Professor John Frater and his colleagues from the CHERUB collaboration. This is a UK network of researchers working together to find a cure for HIV infection. The garden had deconstructed walls, breaking down barriers, with foxgloves and grasses spreading peace and calm.

Flowers from the Farm is a nationwide co-operative of artisan cut flower growers from Inverness to the Scillies. The aim is to buck the trend of importing cut flowers from outside the UK. Provenance matters for this home grown industry of small independent businesses. Their display was full of native flowers that combined to make a beautiful display. Imagine wild flowers, subtle whites threaded through a bride’s bouquet

RHS Chelsea Flower Show: Tuesday, May 21st until Saturday 25th May

Related feature: Looking back on Chelsea Flower Show 2016.

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