Encouraging people to reconnect with nature is a key theme at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show with gardens celebrating the beauty of the natural world.
Multi RHS gold medal winning designer, Sarah Eberle returns to Main Avenue with a garden celebrating 100 years of forestry with The Forestry Commission. The Resilience Garden looks ahead to the biggest challenges facing our forests in the future, exploring how they can be made resilient to a changing climate and the increasing threats of pests and diseases.
Set within an outdoor farm workshop, both the garden and designer are inspired by William Robinson, an advocate for forestry, pioneer in experimental planting and visionary in the creation of wild, natural gardens. Echoing Robinson’s designs, the garden features exotic alongside native species – specially selected to thrive in habitats that mimic existing and probable effects of climate change.
The garden uses natural materials including boulders, stone and gravel to reflect its rural setting. Water is collected from the rear of the garden and distributed to create a variety of habitats including an arid area, damp area and well-drained meadow area. A full size hopper bottom silo, doubling as the designer’s office, stands over the garden at nearly seven metres tall.
Plants have been selected to respond to the three main habitats; forests/woods, dry/arid and damp/waterlogged. A wide variety of trees and plants, some more unusual than others, will feature in the garden signifying the diversification of planting required to create resilient forests and gardens.
The trees have been selected to cope with varied conditions as a replacement for timber and, in some cases, for their aesthetic quality and sympathy to the character of the English landscape. Plants have also been selected for their resilience to changing climate conditions.
Hampshire nursery Hortus Loci are again supplying the planting for show gardens – this time for Mark Gregory and Tom Dixon.
For the first time the Great Pavilion will also house a judged walk-through Show Garden by internationally renowned British Designer Tom Dixon and home furnishings retailer IKEA. Together they have designed an experimental model for growing plants in the urban environment.
Divided into two levels, the immersive garden explores the contrast of the super-natural and technological to explore the future of growing. The base garden is a horticultural laboratory where hydroponic technology is implemented to grow hyper-natural edibles. The raised garden is a botanic oasis with a naturalistic aesthetic to encourage visitors to emerge themselves in a canopy-like ecosystem of trees, flowers and plants with medicinal, health and environmental benefits.
The garden showcases the potential for democratic and distributed urban farms and considers the future of the environment and the importance of growing food locally.
Last year’s People’s Choice winner Mark Gregory is designing once again for Welcome to Yorkshire, inspired by the canals and waterways found in the West of the county.
For the second year Royal Hospital Way will be populated by inspiring gardens offering new ideas and inspiration in the Space to Grow Category.
The Warner Edward’s Garden by Hampshire designer Helen Elks-Smith incorporates water in a playful and imaginative way. Central to the design is an impressive sheltered courtyard, referencing the pastoral setting of Falls Farm, the heart of Warner Edwards Gin Distillery in rural Northamptonshire where all their gin is hand-crafted with nature. The central column with elements of copper and water is inspired by ‘Curiosity’, the Warner Edwards Gin still.
Said to be built ‘on rock and water’ the naturally occurring springs and aquifers of Falls Farm inspired the addition of an imaginative interpretation of the use of captured water, as it appears and disappears throughout the garden. With a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece Fallingwater and an emphasis on the horizontal plane, this enclosure is designed for relaxed entertaining with views to the wider landscape beyond and underpinned by subtle, textural planting.
Rainfall and water from rooftops is a playful element, on display rather than hidden behind drainpipes, slowing the passage of rainfall and highlighting how it might be used. Regionally-sourced quarried natural stone and materials will anchor the design. The garden contains a complex cantilevered roof and supporting structure. Bespoke, hand crafted glass panels are being designed for the garden by Oxford-based artist Wendy Newhofer. The blue of the glass created is from copper reacting with the glass.
The planting will include Juniperus communis, an evergreen conifer the berries of which are used to flavour gin; Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’- broad-leaved cockspur thorn; mixed native hedging, an important part of English countryside and Rosmarinus officinalis.
Small is beautiful when it comes to the Artisan Gardens and this year’s line-up promise to inspire and excite as traditional materials and methods are revitalised through new design approaches.
Miles Stone of Eastleigh have teamed up with Kingston Maurward College. Their Chelsea garden celebrates 70 years of land-based education at the Kingston Maurward.
With a bespoke cupula at its heart the garden draws inspiration from across the globe combining metal, stone, wood and flora from Asia, England and the Mediterranean.
The sawn paving and dry stone walling fuse to create an inviting path using heritage and contemporary versions of Purbeck stone from Kingston Maurward’s own Dorset coast. The path culminates in a place of rest and reflection under the cupula where thoughts can flow and the next generation of land-based professionals can be inspired.
The garden embraces the artisan approach with hand-crafted elements. Modern elements to combine the traditional with the contemporary have been incorporated through the use of sawn stone paving and cutting-edge production methods.
British horticulture remains at the heart of RHS Chelsea as the UK’s top nurseries fill the Great Pavilion with thousands of immaculate plant varieties on display.
Exbury’s famous rhododendrons will be showcased in a collaboration with experts Millais Nurseries. Exbury and Millais have been working together to conserve some of the more rare and threatened hybrid rhododendrons in their collection. The display will aim to evoke the ‘spirit’ of Exbury Gardens.
New Forest Hostas and Hemerocallis are one of eight nurseries making their Chelsea debut and adding to the horticultural excellence on display this year
Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants are returning for the 27th year and launching three new exciting, long flowering perennials – Digitalis ‘Firebird’, Salvia ‘Amethyst Lips’ and Dianthus ‘Cherry Burst’.
New Forest Hostas are doing their largest ever display, which consists of a garden setting showing over 100 different varieties of Hosta of all sizes. They will also be launching a brand new variety of Hosta.
There will also be stunning displays from Hampshire Carnivorous Plants, The Real Flower Company, Heucheraholics and Palms Exotics Ltd.
Luxury Hampshire hotel Chewton Glen will be opening their new treehouse with Stricly stars Joe Sugg and Dianne Buswell. After the show, the treehouse will be relocated to the grounds of the hotel.
Myburgh Designs, Liphook
Site No: PW257
Alitex Ltd, Petersfield
Site No: MA334
Andy Small Photography, Cliddesden
Site No: EA509
Gaze Burvill Ltd, Alton
Site No: MA333
Gold Leaf Gardening Gloves, Southampton
Site No: EA499
Griffin Glasshouses Ltd, Ropley
Site No: RHW611
Site No: PW606
The Delphinium Society, Romsey
Site No: EA501
The Garden Lantern Co by Culinary Concepts, North Warnborough
Site No: SR16
Thomas Sanderson Ltd, Waterlooville
Site No: PW271
Wallgarden Limited, Stockbridge
Site No: RHW623
Tickets are now available to buy now at www.rhs.org.uk/shows