Earlier this week the RHS Chelsea Flower Show opened its gates to a wide and eager audience, and we were more than delighted to attend.
As usual, the show was full of creativity, inspiration, and gardens with stories to tell. There was truly something for everyone.
This year, it was notable that there was a real focus on our connection with nature. With the effects of climate change and battling the pandemic, the world has become increasingly aware of the power of nature – a change that has been more than welcomed in the industry.
Mentally, spiritually, and physically, our gardens are good for the soul. But to receive these benefits we must care for our outside space, and, with this in mind, designers have been busy encouraging habitat creation and rewilding whilst making outdoor space work for humans too.
The Chelsea gardens this year brought attention to several issues fighting for social change. Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know focused on social injustice and represented the challenges and threats of racism, poverty and violence. The St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden was designed to support people recovering from homelessness. And The Mind Garden inspired us to connect with others and open up about out mental health.
It came as no shock that Sarah Eberle’s garden, MEDITE SMARTPLY Building the Future Garden, won gold for Best Construction. With the monolith’s great height, the waterfalls, and the lush planting, it was an incredible show garden that offers rich biodiversity and unique design.
However, the Best in Show Garden, A Rewilding Britain Landscape, certainly divided opinion and is holding a good debate. Whilst there are certainly things we can all take from it, for example the planting involved is fantastic, many are unsure on the beaver habitat as it seems out of garden context. I’m with Monty Don on this one asking, was it a real garden?
Nevertheless, time and time again Chelsea demonstrates how we can all have an impact and create beautifully busy gardens, where size doesn’t matter.
All in all, one of my favourite aspects from Chelsea this year is the new rules on relocation. Whist relocating a Chelsea garden isn’t necessarily new for some, mandatory settlement of the gardens elsewhere offers an immensely important and positive change towards sustainability, and allows a real future for the gardens to continue their meaningful purpose.