Every year some species are seen in many different gardens. This year these were the fluffy magenta cirsium (Still Garden, Jay Day), multiple-flowered spires of verbascum in peachy, buff shades (in Hackney-based charity Core Arts' Front Garden Revolution Garden), the spherical heads of alliums, especially in white (The Perennial Garden ‘With Love’, and BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden), tubular-flowered towering foxgloves, and flat-petalled orange geums.
Foxgloves, verbascum, geums, alliums and cirsium in the BBC Studios Our Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden. Photo: ©Adrienne Wyper
Trends to take away
This year’s theme is wild and natural spaces, so there are plenty of plants that are native to the UK – including some wild flowers, such as buttercups, that some might identify as weeds – wildlife-friendly gardens paying particular attention to attracting pollinators (this writer has never seen so many bees at Chelsea!), and naturalistic planting designs.
Blue was probably the colour most in evidence, in varying shades, teamed with white, or often with orange, seen in Morris & Co, The Enchanted Rain Garden, Wild Kitchen Garden, The RNLI Garden. Burgundy and lime cropped up together too, in The Mind Garden, for example.
Water, whether a scene-stealing cascade as in the Medite Smartply Building the Future Garden, or a still pool, as in the ‘dye baths’ of A Textile Garden for Fashion Revolution, water adds life to a garden (quite literally; birds drink from it and wash in it). It reflects the sky and surrounding plants, and the trickling, gurgling, gushing or splashing sound, as heard in the Mandala, Meditation and Mindfulness Garden (below), is soothing. More elaborate water features add a sculptural element, too.
A piece of paradise
One theme recurring in many show gardens was the beneficial effect that spending time in nature has on mental wellbeing. That resonates for many of us who sought solace in outdoor spaces during the pandemic.
In the container gardens category, the Mandala, Meditation and Mindfulness Garden (below) offers a safe haven to spend time sitting and meditating, listening to the tranquil water, bees humming and birds singing – a calm and restful but rejuvenating space.
Calming shades in the Mandala, Meditation and Mindfulness Garden. Photo: ©Adrienne Wyper
Eight-time medal winner, Andy Sturgeon, who designed the Mind Garden for the mental health charity described it as 'a sanctuary, a place to sit, share and listen'.
There’s nothing quite so outrageous as some of the spectacles seen at previous Shows, such as twirling trees, suspended gardens, living QR codes and on-demand mist, but this Show’s simpler pleasures are just as stunning, and feel appropriate for these times.
In the Plantman’s Ice Garden stands a 10-foot ice cube, which will melt slowly during the five-day show as a symbolic representation of climate change, revealing a hidden plant at the centre of the frozen block.
Photo: ©Adrienne Wyper
If you follow the Instagram trend of tablescaping, seek out this theme in the flower-arranging section for some truly OTT displays, such as Reconnect by Norris Floristry, below.
Photo: ©Adrienne Wyper
Also in the Great Pavilion, inhale the almost overpowering fragrance coming from the David Austin roses display, and also Harts Nursery’s lilies.
Enjoy the flora of four seasons in one day, from daffodils to autumn foliage, and plants for every environment all in one place, from shade-loving ferns to sun-worshipping cacti.
Revel in the royal floral tributes in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, from florist Simon Lycett’s silhouette of the Queen arranged with 70 terracotta pots, and planted with lily of the valley, one of the Queen’s favourite plants which featured in her Coronation bouquet, to a special Jubilee orchid, to a pretty multi-layered installation by floral designers Veevers Carter featuring flowers including fresh delphiniums, emulating the colours and planting found near the Royal Family’s Balmoral Castle.
If you can't make it to the Show in person, catch up on the BBC's coverage on iPlayer here.
|What||RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022, Royal Hospital Chelsea|
|Where||Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4SR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
24 May 22 – 28 May 22, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|