Just like that, RHS Chelsea Flower Show is done for another year. The hugely anticipated show seemed to go off without a hitch. Here are some of our highlights and standout moments.
The planting was perhaps the most intriguing part of the show this year, as Chelsea moved to September for the first time in its history.
We spoke to Tom Massey – who designed, supported by Sarah Mead, The Yeo Valley Organic Garden, built by Landscape Associates – about how he found the change in planting palette. “I absolutely loved doing in September, it’s one of my favourite times of the year in the garden. You’ve got the hot colours – the yellows, the reds, the oranges, the fiery autumn tones, trees that are starting to go over. I love that I think it’s a perfect time of year to do a flower show. In a way, there’s more choice and interest than in May.
“Some of the trees were starting to drop their leaves quite fast, so we did have to swap out a couple. Because once they go into shock and start dropping their leaves they just tend to deteriorate completely. Keeping trees going has probably been the biggest challenge.”
The challenges clearly didn’t hold them back too much though, as the team scooped up a Gold Medal and won People’s Choice Award for Best Show Garden.
Designed by Ekaterina Zasukhina with Carly Kershaw, built by Cube 1994, and winning them a Silver Medal, Bodmin Jail: 60° East – A Garden Between Continents blended European and Asian planting palettes. It was the rocks, though, that proved to be the biggest challenge for Cube 1994.
Director Sean Butler explains: “The only challenging thing was the time it took to actually place the rocks. Some of these rocks weigh five and a half tonnes and took three and a half hours to position exactly.
“A third of it is in the ground, but we couldn’t use concrete to keep it in place. We had to use a balancing stone underneath and get the two faces of each stone to align perfectly with each other, so it doesn’t fall over.”
The rocks were then mocked up in Russia, numbered, and shipped to Sean in the UK. With 16 people working on the garden every day, Sean approached the build methodically. “The first task was to create all the levels using a datum point. Next, we carved out a shape, starting with the biggest rocks. Then we crafted the pool shape beginning with a 2m hole – the filtration system, pumps and a UV filter are hidden underneath to make sure the water is sparking clean.
“Once the rest of the structural stonework was in, we started to install the more structural plants like the hedging and pine trees. The steps had to be altered slightly, as we were on more of a slope than we anticipated, but those went in next. Finally, we started to position the planting. I divided the garden into quarters and then subdivided those into m2. We started in the northeast, then moved round and finished in the southeast quarter.”
Of course, no could attend the show without hearing about Drag queen, DJ Crystal and the disco ball dancers.