Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious in the world, bringing new ideas to global, some bemusing but always setting trends.
But Chelsea doesn’t only do that. As with all modern garden shows, Chelsea encourages gardens which promote a long list of concepts.
At the top of the list are the gardens which promote causes.
Greening Grey Britain
And with Chelsea this starts with the Royal Horticultural Society’s own garden promoting its newest project – Greening Grey Britain designed by Anne-Marie Powell.
The Royal Horticultural Society tells us that science shows gardens in Britain, front gardens especially, are being lost to concrete at a fast rate. Only one in three is now planted.
However, gardens make up at least 25% of land in most cities and as they are lost, there is an impact on wildlife and climate change. But if everyone replaced even the smallest amount of planting to make a green space, things can change.
The benefits of greening urban areas include:
- Improved air cooling, making it more bearable in towns and cities in hot weather
- Insulation of buildings by garden vegetation
- Improved air quality
- Storm water mitigation which helps to reduce garden flooding
- A source of habitats for wildlife
- Improved health for plants and people who garden more
Every year for the past few years there have been gardens shown at Chelsea which promote the idea of sustainable garden living and this one is no exception. I love the concept promoted by the RHSj that every plant matters, whatever the size of the planting and whatever the species.
Garden Shows also help not-for-profit organisations promote themselves through their gardens. Here are some from Chelsea.
The World Vision Garden
One of the Fresh Gardens this year, the World Vision Garden, designed by John Warland, symbolizes journeys of life.
Inspired by the lives of children around the world, the floating waves of turf each represent an individual life. The undulations symbolise how unpredictable and vulnerable life is, especially for children living in places where poverty and disasters strike.
A flower filled under-planting of vibrant Tulipa ballerina represents the hope that World Vision brings to children living in fear. Delicate Anemone blanda reminds us of the daisy-strewn lawns of childhood, of creating daisy chains and the joining together of humankind to help the most vulnerable children.
St John’s Hospice, A Modern Apothecary
Designed by Jekka McVicker, the inspiration for this garden is based on conversations with doctors and care professionals about what we can do to improve our own health within the context of gardens and plants.
The garden features research-based plants known to be beneficial to the health and wellbeing. It does this in two ways.
The garden is a small tranquil space with the central bowl of water indicating wellness at its heart. The experience of natural calm while walking along the lavender-lined path, towards the water feature, is enhanced by a pair of benches where you can sit, surrounded by scented plants in a place of stillness.
It is also inspired by the healing power of individual plants, all herbs with medicinal properties and a quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.
Modern Slavery Garden
Designed by Juliet Sargeant, his garden is a celebration of the day the British Parliament passed The Modern Slavery Act.
The bright front doors and colourful planting illustrate the ordinary streets where we live. But there is a darker centre to the garden, which hints at a hidden reality: people are still being kept in captivity and forced to work, in every part of the UK today.
Next on the list are those gardens promoting businesses. Be those businesses a country or county or corporations.
God’s Own County – Yorkshire
Designed by Matthew Wilson and inspired by the medieval Great East Window at York Minster, this garden showcases the county’s wealth of stunning scenery, iconic heritage, deep-rooted and skilled tradespeople.
This garden is sponsored by the County of Yorkshire to promote it as a travel destination.
Cloudy Bay Garden
This garden is inspired by Cloudy Bay’s 30 year wine making heritage at their winery in the Marlborough region of New Zealand and sponsored by that organisation.
Designed by Sam Ovens to be a secluded retreat in which to escape (with a chilled glass of Cloudy Bay Semillon Sauvignon Blanc), the cedar deck over a reflective pool gives the idea of drifting away or escaping.
The LG Smart Garden
The LG Smart Garden (sponsored by LG and designed by Hay Joung Hwang) is inspired by the concept of intelligent homes and is intended to demonstrate that technology can be incorporated harmoniously into the garden as well as the house, providing additional functionality and convenience.
Set in a Scandinavian lifestyle garden, the garden shows a balance between formal and informal, natural and artificial – a modern garden indeed, especially as it is also full of gizmos which can be controlled by your smartphone. Forgotten to water the garden this morning – no worries – just turn on the system while on the train to work.