It has been a very British week, hasn’t it? The sun shone on the royal wedding over the weekend and in the nearby Chelsea neighbourhood the fine weather kept up for the biggest date in the gardening calendar. Visitors from all over the world come to see the stunning show gardens at Chelsea Flower Show, and this year has been no exception. The gardens are divided into Show, Space, Design and Artisan, and we’ve been keeping an eye out to spot the trends emerging from this year’s gardens.
Into the Wild
Obviously, as a garden show, there are plants everywhere, but this year designers have been using up every available space to fill with plantlife. Gone are the box hedges and neat beds. Beautifully messy is in, with billowy, frothy planting that spills over the borders and a wild, irregular planting style. It can be seen in gardens like Chris Beardshaw’s design that won best show garden, M&G’s Mediterranean-inspired garden, and the rugged Welcome to Yorkshire garden.
A popular interior trend this year, Japanese influence has flowed over into the garden. It’s a subtle nod in some, such as the slatted wood panelling of the Lemon Tree Trust Garden, while renowned Japanese designer Kazuyuki Ishihara’s entry, The Hospitality Garden is inspired by the Japanese culture of omotenashi. This is the concept of wholehearted and sincere hospitality, and the planting is based on a type of Japanese flower arranging called Ikenobo. Think trickling waters, wide-reaching acers and burnt hues.
All-in-all, gardens this year have become calm, restful spaces for meditation and reflection. We’re seeing fewer of the blowsy pinks and reds and more of an emphasis on greens, whites and soft yellows. Think zen rather than zany as ferns and green perennials taking over from the rainbow of colours usually seen at Chelsea. Gardens of note were the Spirit of Cornwall garden, The Weston Garden, and the New West End garden by Katie Gould.
Foxglove and lupins are back
Previously considered as a bit old-fashioned, these cottage garden favourites are in vogue again and spotted in their dozens across the show, including the Urban Flow Garden by Tony Woods, the LG Eco Garden, Seedlip Garden, and Cherub HIV Garden. Their tall spires bring structure and depth to beds, as the lupin’s deep purples are complemented by the lemony yellows and whites of the foxgloves.
Environmental and sustainable gardens
Thoughts have certainly turned to the environment in 2018, and Chelsea is no different. Bee-friendly planting, to encourage the gardener’s favourite pollinators were everywhere, as well as recycled herb beds for urban growers in the Lemon Tree Trust Garden. The Weston Garden even went as far as to recycle plants that have featured in previous shows. LG’s Eco City Garden tackled the green space offered to residential apartments and how to make them as environmentally friendly as possible, including high-oxygen-generating trees and accessible running water for animals and insects.
Featured image: The Hospitality Garden by Kazuyuki Ishihara, rhs.org.uk