Chelsea Flower Show 2021

For the first time in its 108 year history, the RHS postponed RHS Chelsea Flower Show to the autumn instead of spring, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Show, which would have taken place in May, was moved to 21 September to 26 September at The Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

View photo gallery of RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021

Here’s what Hampshire has to offer at the show this year.

Show Gardens

The Yeo Valley Organic Garden (Gold medal and People’s Choice), designed by Tom Massey with plants grown by Hampshire nursery Hortus Loci provides a nature-filled experience incorporating habitats and plants found at Yeo Valley’s family-run organic garden in Somerset. It is designed to nurture soil health and biodiversity and support pollinators and other beneficial wildlife.

At the front of the garden an open perennial meadow is brimming with flowering plants, full of colour and scent. Sweeping walls divide the site, formed of carbon-rich biochar logs and rammed earth; a visual representation of soil health and the importance of keeping carbon in the soil.

An egg-shaped, steam-bent oak hide, representing soil fertility and health, is suspended over the fast-flowing stream that runs through the whole garden. It provides a place to relax, unwind and observe the natural environment and visiting wildlife.

The stream connects the different garden spaces and provides the calming sound of water. It begins at the top of a gentle hill flowing from a simple steel trough reflecting pool.

The woodland is full of fruiting and flowering trees such as medlar and quince alongside native species such as silver birch, hazel and hawthorn. This area represents land that could be used for woodland grazing.

Mark Straver, Tom Massey and Robin Wallis

The Florence Nightingale Garden – A Celebration of Modern Day Nursing (silver medal) is also supplied by Hortus Loci.

An imagined courtyard garden for a new hospital, this garden was planned to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale at the Show in 2020 with the aim of raising the profile of nursing as a profession in the 21st century.

The theme is ‘nurture through nature’, inspired by the idea that the shortest road to recovery leads through a garden.

With the ongoing pandemic, these messages have become more relevant than ever, presenting a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the critical role nurses play in modern-day healthcare and to thank them for their significant ongoing contributions.

This restorative garden, enclosed on three sides by a sculptural timber pergola, is for viewing from inside the building, as well as for sitting in and strolling through, with shaded places to sit, naturalistic planting, lush multi-layered greenery and water to engage the senses. Nightingale’s story is referenced in artwork throughout the garden.

The garden hopes to highlight the enduring influence of Florence Nightingale on nursing today, and her recognition of the importance of restorative gardens, and the benefits of fresh air and green spaces for wellbeing and recovery in hospital.

Sanctuary Gardens

Bible Society: The Psalm 23 Garden (Gold medal and Best in Show Sanctuary Garden)

Sarah Eberle’s interpretation of Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, with its message of hope, encouragement and solace, is a garden that offers a place to breathe, re-engage with nature, and feel mentally, physically and spiritually restored.

The garden is inspired by the landscape of Dartmoor, where Sarah grew up, and takes the form of a place of sanctuary, a haven. It draws you in and allows you to spend time with the soothing character of the landscape. It reflects both the journey and the destination found in Psalm 23.

Sarah Eberle

Hortus Loci are the plant suppliers of both the Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden and the Finnish Soul Garden.

The Finding Our Way: An NHS Tribute Garden (silver) is designed by Naomi Ferrett-Cohen. It celebrates the relentless work of the NHS to provide care and support during the Covid pandemic not just nurses and doctors, but also physiotherapists, pharmacists, porters, technicians and other unseen and unsung staff who keep the health service running. At the same time, the UK universities were working flat out to find treatments and vaccines.

Entering the garden, the sheer imposing verticals of the timber canopy represent the sharp descent into fear at the outset of the pandemic. Here, the water starts its exploration through a series of rills and pools, representing the collective efforts of those working together in the NHS and universities. From here, the garden provides an immersive experience, with the gentle sound of water running along shallow rills connecting larger pools and the warm palette and soft textures of the planting, providing a safe space for reflection and contemplation, bringing optimism and hope of a brighter future.

The Finnish Soul Garden (Silver-Gilt) is designed by Taina Suonio and depicts a seaside garden intended to be used as a recreational facility by city dwellers. Situated near a public beach on a secluded peninsula, it features natural Baltic seaside vegetation, sauna and cool-off area. The garden provides an open view to the sea and nearby islands. It is a haven with an atmosphere of relaxation, recuperation and recreation.

The key features are a contemporary Finnish sauna with a vegetated roof and a water feature. The garden recreates the natural green seaside environment and, in the planted cool-off area, the flowers reflect the understated charm of autumn. This communal sanctuary reflects traditional seaside life in harmony with the surrounding nature. The Nordic tradition of seaside life has continued virtually unchanged for centuries.

Container Gardens

The IBC Pocket Forest by Sara Edwards is supplied by Hortus Loci. Inspired by the balconies of Milan’s Bosco Verticale and tiny urban forests utilising the Miyawaki method of creating diverse multi layered forest, this garden’s aim is to create an urban pocket forest and haven for wildlife, repurposing Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) into a sanctuary to sit and be immersed in nature.

IBC’s are sold off cheaply at the end of their leasing lifecycle and, like pallets and shipping containers, they’re readily available, modular, and easily customisable, and far cheaper than buying comparable planters of the same size, making this attainable for the smallest budgets especially if planting the forest from scratch like the Miyawaki method.

The IBC containers are planted with a multi-layered scheme with trees, mid-storey shrubs, and underplanting. The main focus of the garden are the trees which have been selected for their benefits to wildlife.

Feature Gardens

The RHS COP26 Garden is designed by landscape architects Balston Agius, led by Marie-Louise Agius, director and trustee of Exbury Gardens.

Marie-Louise Agius

The garden has two clear goals: to be a clear exposition of the climate change crisis, but to also show visitors what they can do, at home and within their communities, to make a difference.

Visitors to the garden go on a journey through four key themes: Decline, Adaptation, Mitigation and Balance.

The Decline quarter demonstrates key issues around climate change, like poorly managed planning and construction and excessive drainage leading to flooding. It will show negative gardening practices such as the monoculture of the lawn, made worse by over-irrigation and the use of too many chemicals.

The quarter culminates with the sterility of the paved-over front garden fit only for a parked car and of little use to needy insects.

The Adaptation quarter of the garden shows how we need to become more environmentally aware and adjust our landscaping and planting to respond to climate change. For instance using highly drought tolerant desert plants, which can also put up with occasional deluges, creating meadows, or the equivalent of a Garrigue (a type of low, scrubland ecoregion and plant community) to accommodate the extremes of drought and downpour.

The Mitigation quarter demonstrates landscaping and planting ideas both at a community level and a more personal garden level to actively support and help the environment in our outside spaces.

The Balance area of the garden shows how we can work with nature, even when temperatures have risen and storms are more severe, to create a beautiful environmentally friendly garden, full to the brim with fruit, veg and ornamentals.

The BBC One Show and RHS Garden of Hope by Arit Anderson illustrates how gardening and growing plants can bring hope and joy and will continue to give comfort long after the September show when it moves to the Rosewood Mother and Baby Unit in Dartford. The unit is part of the Kent and Medway NHS Social Care Partnership Trust, a specialist in-patient centre for new mothers with serious mental health issues, and their babies. It will provide a safe, beautiful sanctuary and place of hope for the women and their babies.

Arit Anderson

Central to Arit’s design is a beautiful steam-bent wooden sculpture fashioned by sculptor Charlie Whinney, a world leader in using wood in innovative ways, which twists and flows through the garden forming a key feature.

The garden has a natural feel, with a number of trees, some turning with autumnal colours, and areas of dense rich, green planting at the front, becoming more colourful as you walk through.

Hortus Loci supplied both feature gardens.

Great Pavilion

Sparsholt College has teamed up with Gilbert White & The Oates Collections to create Sparsholt’s 2021 RHS Chelsea garden entry ‘The Natural Kalendar’ (Silver-Gilt).

The garden was designed by Sparsholt’s multiple-medal-winning team in celebration of Gilbert White, a true hero of Hampshire and the natural world to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth. The garden highlights White’s life’s work observing the natural history around him and shows how important a resource his records remain for us today.

‘The Natural Kalendar’ garden brings to life phenology – the study of nature’s lifecycles and seasonal variations in climate – from 250 years in the past through to the present day, and its impact on future plant species selection. The garden also takes the theme of climate change, to show how observations by White (1720-1793), the father of ecology, enlightened people to the changing seasons and species activity. Key observations that are still relevant to the modern world today.

The garden features the RHS Plant of the Year – Cercis canadensis ‘Eternal Flame.’

Cercis canadensis ‘Eternal Flame’

New Forest business Agrumi Limited are also exhibiting bespoke topiary, including life-size ponies and stags.

Hospitality at Jardin Blanc

Nestled in a peaceful corner of the show is the entrance to Jardin Blanc. Inside is the perfect atmosphere for dining, unwinding and celebrating against a backdrop of outstanding horticulture and incredible works of art. With menus designed by Jardin Blanc’s Chef Director, Raymond Blanc OBE and a stunning garden designed by Hampshire horticulturalist Andy McIndoe, it’s the perfect place to be.

Raymond Blanc and Andy McIndoe

Trade stands

Alitex Ltd – Victorian greenhouses
Alitex are designers and manufacturers of bespoke aluminium greenhouses and conservatories. The National Trust Greenhouse collection features a range of practical, low-maintenance greenhouses, with the timeless aesthetic qualities of an original heritage structure, designed to stand the test of time. Alitex products are endorsed by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Andy Small Photography – flowers and nature photography
Andy Small specialises in flowers and plants. He and his wife are also passionate gardeners and their cottage garden provides much of his subject matter. Andy’s photographs are available as bespoke prints on canvas, glass, aluminium and framed photographs. The last few years has seen an increase in the demand for Kitchen Glass Splash backs and Andy has been working closely with one of the UK’s manufacturers of glass prints to provide this product.

Gaze Burvill Ltd – outdoor kitchens and furniture
Gaze Burvill design and make the finest furniture and kitchens for the garden and terrace with an honest commitment to design integrity, comfort and craftsmanship. Utilising state-of-the-art technology alongside the timeless skills of their master craftsmen, it creates a variety of collections for outdoor spaces, whether traditional or contemporary, large or small.

Griffin Glasshouses
Griffin Glasshouses is a family business with a history of innovating glasshouse design.

Myburgh Designs – sculptural garden swings
Myburgh creates beautiful art and design for your garden, from unique furniture to art and sculpture.

Related – Adam Frost spoke to us about his thoughts on an autumn show: