The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is undoubtedly one of the year’s great highlights. Everything about it is razzle-dazzle – the colours, the scents, the designs, the monumental feats of logistics, the international exhibitors and the gardens great and small. And then of course there are the 165,000 visitors – and all for a few short and not always sunny and clement days.

Established in 1913, on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has become the world’s greatest showcase for horticultural excellence, attracting visitors and exhibitors from across the globe. It is always a fragrant and eye popping treat to visit the Great Pavilion. It may no longer have the reassuringly old fashioned smell of canvas, but at over 12,000 sq m or two football pitches – it is still decidedly ‘Great’. The star attractions however are always the exceptional Show Gardens of which this year there are 15, occupying the largest plots. These prestigious gardens are outstanding examples of horticultural and landscape design excellence from around the world. As always a number of countries are represented including Singapore, Lesotho, France – and of course Britain. Unsurprisingly there are many highlights this year and you’ll find yourself spoilt with choice. Here are our picks of the best in RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015.

BEST IN SHOW – The Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden

Designer – Dan Pearson. Sponsors – Champagne Laurent-Perrier, Chatsworth.

The Best in Show – the top prize at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – is deservedly awarded to the veteran designer Dan Pearson and his Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden.

Pearson returns to Chelsea after an 11 year break with a garden inspired by a little known but beautiful ornamental Trout Stream and rockery of the 105 acre Chatsworth estate in the Peak District. In line with Pearson’s passion for naturalism and the wilder side of gardening, his planting reflects the lightness, freshness and delicacy of the 200 year old family owned Chatsworth House. And what a contrast to the highly manicured regimentation of most gardens it is, with its rugged and naturalistic design.

romantic rivulets snake around no less than 300 tons of rock – Sir Joseph Paxton’s 19th century rockery – from Chatsworth

Viewable from all sides, this is the largest garden in the Show and also the most awesome, as romantic rivulets snake around no less than 300 tons of rock – Sir Joseph Paxton’s 19th century rockery – from Chatsworth. It took ten flat-bed lorries to transport the monumental blocks of gritstone down the M1, along with three tonnes of leaf mould, a large weeping willow and thousands of native plants.

GOLD MEDAL WINNER – The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden

Designer – Chris Beardshaw. Sponsor – Morgan Stanley.

One of the most beautiful, thoughtful and inspiring gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 is Chris Beardshaw’s gold medal winning Healthy Cities Garden.

What’s fascinating about this garden is that it wasn’t so much created for Chelsea as it was for a planned half acre community garden in the East End’s Poplar, where it will go after the Show.

Sponsor Morgan Stanley – whose first time this is at Chelsea – commissioned the well-known designer to produce a garden as an integral, part of its global Healthy Cities programme. Beardshaw’s garden is a cleverly symbolic interpretation of the elements that make up a healthy ‘community’.

through the design, Chris has taken a holistic view of what makes a city healthy and, by definition, what gives rise to a healthy community

The harmonious eclecticism of colourful plants represent the diversity that characterises our cities; the interwoven box hedges reference not only Tudor English knot gardens, but also the friendship knots of the sailors and dock workers of the Poplar of yesteryear. There is a happy confluence of themes between Beardshaw’s design and the RHS campaign to reverse the concreting of our cities. The talented designer says “I am wholly supportive of Morgan Stanley’s Healthy Cities initiative as I believe that people in all communities should have access to quality green space, areas for play and the opportunity to positively interact.”

GOLD MEDAL WINNER – A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse

Designer – James Basson. Sponsor – L’Occitane UK.

The gold medal winning Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse, designed by James Basson evocatively recreates the Provencale hillsides on the outskirts of Grasse and the ups and downs of the perfume industry.

Historically Grasse with its abundance of water and micro-climate has been the perfume capital of the world. For several decades however, Grasse has been in sad decline and many of the traditional plantations have become overgrown. In recent years companies like L’Occitane – which is also sponsoring this garden – have spearheaded a revival in this region’s fortunes. Basson’s garden successfully conveys this gentle revival with his romantic and aromatic design.

the planting has a very naturalistic feel, representative of the surrounding landscape and the traditional perfume plantations

Based on an imagined garden of a perfume grower in Grasse Provence in times past, this is a space that transports viewers to the Mediterranean. With scented flowers and aromatic plants the garden’s terrain will change from the dry Mediterranean to a shadier greener damp environment. The design concept includes a lavoir – a historical bathhouse common throughout Europe and essential to Provencal life and closely linked to the perfume industry.

There is one dominant hard material – ‘Tufa stone’ which occurs naturally in the Grasse area, and which was much used in the 18th century for the facing of grottoes and other naturalistic garden architecture. Here it is beautifully used to construct the canals, pool, walls and walkways.

AWARD WINNING – Pure Land Foundation Garden

Designer – Fernando Gonzalez. Sponsor – Pure Land Foundation.

The striking garden created by Fernando Gonzalez eschews both traditional materials and techniques with his Pure Land Foundation Garden. A curvilinear white shimmering structure made of Jesomite, evocatively captures both the dramatic topography of the Chinese landscape and the natural rhythms of nature. And while the exotic Golden Rain trees divert your attentions vertically, the planting colour palette references the principal colours used in Buddhist art and ritual. The feeling of calm contemplation – accentuated by the flowing lines and pool of water – is palpable as you enter this garden. Gonzalez’s garden represents a contemporary interpretation of traditional Chinese gardens, where art, nature and ideas harmoniously combine to enable serenity and contemplation.


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