The worlds most prestigious flower show in the world, once again turned Chelsea into the garden of eden. Magnificently decorated shop windows lead the way down Lower Sloane Street to the grounds of the Royal Hospital, and into an ocean of blossoms. The scent of roses, peonies, and exotic flowers filled the air, accompanying each guest around the grounds. Chatter, laughter, and astonished fasces blended in perfectly with the tranquil sound of water drizzling down numerous marble fountains. London’s distinctive sound of sirens and honking horns suddenly seem very distant, once inside Chelsea Flower Show another world has opened.
Picturesque little stands decorate the walkways of the show, selling anything a flower enthusiast’s heart craves. From beautiful floral mugs, post cards, paintings, to table linens and locally sourced vegetable seeds. Traditional Pimm’s stands spread throughout the area help keep up the good spirits once guest’s feet become tired. Flowers and blossoms do not only fill the magnificent landscape of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital, but also serve as inspiration for visitors choice of outfits: Panama hats, floral skirts, dresses, and blouses blend in perfectly with the scenery, creating the ultimate flowery paradise. The precious gardens and flower set-ups are not only here for sheer amusement, as each and every bloom, blade of grass is competing to win one of the Chelsea Flower Show’s prestigious awards. Categories range from fresh gardens, show gardens, to artisan gardens and are divided into bronze, silver, and gold awards.
This year’s winner of the best show garden was an installation that featured the idea of an abandoned Maltese quarry. James Basson, featured immense blocks of limestone planted with wild grasses and covered the grounds with evergreens and perennials. The design is divided into several zones, each with it’s very own ecological system. Through his work, James illustrates that our generation needs to turn words into action in order to save the precious and delicate environment of our planet.
The best fresh garden was a design representing gardens of urban life. It features how nature can be infused into modern concrete apartment blocks. The featured plants were mostly shade-tolerant from a tropical origin, creating a very green and jungle-like environment. Kate Gould, the designer of this installation, wanted to provide usable gardens in small spaces, creating a little piece of heaven in an urban jungle.
This year’s best artisanal garden was a design by Graham Bodle, who created a rustic garden in an abandoned industrial wharf. All materials used were recycled, even the wood and metals. The structure was set up with pines and conifers, creating a sense of maturity. A deck area with a draw bridge and a crane created the perfect feeling of a tranquil space in a summery environment.
One installation that particularly stood out and also won a silver-gilt medal for best show garden, was The Chengdu Silk Road Garden designed by Laurie Chetwood & Patrick Collins. The installation represents the alluring city of Chengdu, displaying its rich culture, history and landscape. Vibrant Rhododendrons and peonies mix with the fresh shrubs and grasses, creating the image of mountains and a resting landscape in the warm orange sunset, one would only see in the famous Sichuan province. The featured plants should not only look great, but also have a direct link to China’s City of Chengdu. All flowers and shrubbery are divided into three categories; those that are only native in China, those that blossom in China but are also distributed all across the northern hemisphere, and garden cultivars with a Chinese heritage. The installation is truly a celebration of China’s rich foliage on the ancient silk trade route.
This years show has dazzled London and attracted over 170, 000 visitors from all around the globe. Incredible flower installations, original gardens, and smiling faces kicked off the perfect start into the British summer season, inspiring gardening enthusiasts and eager flower decorators from all over the world. Aside from the decorative and entertaining aspect of the show, the Chelsea Flower Show presents nature in such a breathtaking way, so much so that we are reminded of how precious this planet is.
Photography by Chris Baker
Words by Constanze-Sophie Pilger
View our Gallery of The London Chelsea Flower Show