The RHS Chelsea Flower Show presents the visitor with a true feast for the senses. The sights, the scents, the sounds… It’s such a sensory overload, in fact, that it’s only when the show is over, and the dust has settled, that you start to appreciate some of the truly extraordinary things you‘ve seen; sights that will linger long in the memory.
So, looking back at that magical week we spent in the grounds of the famous Royal Hospital, in no particular order, here are five of our favourite things from RHS Chelsea 2018.
The Lemon Tree Trust Garden
This beautiful show garden stood right opposite our stand on Main Avenue, telling a poignant story of the resilience, optimism and ingenuity of people displaced from their homes. Inspired by the gardens created by Syrian refugees in Domiz camp in northern Iraq, it included many features typical of Islamic gardens: fruit trees, cooling rills, a trickling fountain, a shady pavilion. Exotic planting transported the visitor to a different world, under a hotter sun, but more familiar garden favourites also featured, a reminder of how creating a garden can bring solace, even in the most desperate of circumstances. And a vertical garden for food and herbs, crafted in recycled materials, showed the resourcefulness of gardeners creating a productive space from very little. Congratulations to Tom Massey and his team on this beautiful silver gilt medal-winning garden. You can read more about this garden in our Journal.
W & S Lockyer, auricula specialist, Great Pavilion
The display of auriculas by W & S Lockyer in the Great Pavilion had to lift the spirits of any footsore Chelsea visitor happening upon it. These charming, colourful and bright-as-a-button spring flowers were displayed in a traditional auricula theatre, a dramatic black backdrop against which the colours simply sang. W & S Lockyer is the holder of the National Collection of double-flowered auriculas, and although the season for these spring flowers is at an end, the whole display was skilfully delayed to be at its peak for Chelsea. Some of these dainty lovelies were even surrounded by lavish gold frames, and they looked as pretty as a picture. Returning to Chelsea in 2018 has been emotional for Simon Lockyer, as two years ago he sadly lost his father Bill, a well-known personality at the show. However, with a gold medal now under his belt, Simon has certainly carried on the family name for excellence. Congratulations to W & S Lockyer on a beautiful display.
The Embroidered Minds Epilepsy Garden
A deeply moving garden, which carried a very powerful message. Despite its relatively small footprint, in the intimate Artisan Gardens area of the showground, it managed to convey layers of meaning. Referencing the impact of living with epilepsy on the family of Victorian craftsman William Morris, the garden was divided into three distinct sections, representing life before, during and after an epileptic seizure. With calm, understated planting slashing to jagged lines and spiky, spiny tangles, which receded to reveal to a heightened sense of colour and texture, the choice of plants brilliantly conveyed the impact of the condition. It was also a very moving tribute to designer Kati Crome’s good friend Leslie Forbes, who sadly died as a result as a result of an epileptic seizure, just as the project was getting started. It’s hoped the garden will help start conversations about living with epilepsy. Congratulations to Kati Crome and her team on a well- earned silver gilt medal. You can read more about this garden in our Journal.
The Pearlfisher Garden
This hugely popular garden certainly brought something completely different to Chelsea 2018. It was surrounded by crowds from morning until night, but we finally got the opportunity to take a good look at the garden late one evening, just as the show was closing. This remarkable creation was designed to showcase the beauty of the planet’s largest garden – the sea – and to highlight the danger to its fragile ecosystems from the plastic waste we discard. The creative planting was dominated by succulents and cacti, perfectly imitating underwater coral, while suspended air plants cleverly captured the look of floating seaweed. Watery shadows danced around the central grotto, cast by a rippled glass ceiling over the whole garden, and above it all was poised a 3D-printed figure, a pearl diver slicing smoothly into the Big Blue. Designed as a call to action to brands, businesses and designers to create sustainable lifecycles for products and packaging, it was a worthy gold medal winner; many congratulations to Karen Welman & John Warland and their team.
Highland Cow, ArtFe
Simply because we love a Highland Kuh! This handsome fellow stopped us in our tracks in Ranelagh Gardens. Simply brilliant craftsmanship from ArtFe, and we can hardly begin to imagine the work that went into creating this fabulous beastie at the ArtFe Smiddy in Edinburgh - and into transporting him to London SW3! If he didn’t find a suitable new home with a visitor to the Chelsea Flower Show, we’re sure we could find some space for him in our garden…
We’re already looking forward to RHS Chelsea 2019, and all the wonders that it will have in store. It’s been fabulous, let’s do it again soon…