The Main Avenue was awash with floral dresses, camera crews and excitable horticulturists gathered in clusters around the Show Gardens – some of the biggest and most impressive vistas on display. These show-stopping enclosures, designed by some of the finest landscape architects in the world, are the first gardens most visitors see. This year, the official theme is reconnecting with nature, while other gardens lead with a message of sustainability and some look to inspire green-fingered visitors to adopt ‘urban farming’.
Here are the highlights to catch at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019…
The RHS Back to Nature Garden
For the first time, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge has co-designed a garden along with Andree Davies and Adam White, a pair of landscape architects who have twice won the coveted RHS gold medal. The royal project, named The RHS Back to Nature Garden, focuses on woodlands as inclusive settings where families and communities come together to make happy memories. By emphasising the role that nature plays in physical and mental health, the design nods to the RHS's partnership with the NHS. Wander along the twisting path and keep an eye out for sprinkling of forget-me-nots – a tribute to Princess Diana.
The Show Gardens
The M&G Garden designed by Andy Sturgeon
This year, the prestigious M&G Garden has been designed by Andy Sturgeon. It’s a pared-down affair, designed to celebrate ‘the beauty of nature’s extraordinary power to regenerate and colonise all kinds of landscapes with new growth’.
The Savills and David Harber Garden, designed by Andrew Duff
Next to it is The Savills and David Harber Garden, designed by Andrew Duff. Here, there’s one main focal point: a bronze shard which rises from a central pool and reflects prettily on the ripples below.
Mark Gregory's Welcome to Yorkshire Garden
Much fuss has been made of Tom Dixon’s ‘Gardening Will Save the World’, designed in partnership with IKEA, but with its garish neon pink hue, it’s not for purists. Far more exciting is the nostalgia-inducing ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ garden. Designed by Mark Gregory, the garden features a canal, lock gates and reclaimed masonry walling.
Perhaps the most emotive garden, meanwhile, is ‘The Greenfingers Charity Garden’ designed by Kate Gould, which was created for a hospice to provide a space where seriously ill children can come together and enjoy the fresh air with their loved ones.
Thomas Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis Garden
Thomas Hoblyn’s ‘Dubai Majlis Garden’ is another not to miss. Inspired by the sculptural beauty found in arid landscapes, it’s a feat of architecture and a feast for the eyes with its droplet-shaped pool, sand dune-inspired pavilion and dotting of diverse, dry-land fauna.
Take a right when you reach the bottom of Main Avenue and walk alongside Jonathan Snow’s ‘The Trailfinders: Undiscovered Latin America’ Garden. With its cascading waterfalls juxtaposed with a bright red walkway, you'll find yourself instantly transported far away. The garden has been designed to raise awareness of South American’s ‘fragile and beautiful ecosystems’, which are currently under threat from urbanisation, over-farming and logging.
The Wedgwood Garden
Finish up exploring the Show Gardens with The Wedgwood Garden, a tranquil haven where classicism meets modernism. Our advice? Enjoy the view from the Wedgwood tea tent neighbouring the garden. Here, you can refresh while sipping an array of exotic, fruity blends, designed to transport you somewhere else through their flavours.
The best of the blooms in The Great Pavilion
From the Show Gardens, head next into the Great Pavilion (the central glass-domed structure at the heart of the Chelsea Flower Show). Here, you'll find an enormous grid of the best nurseries from around the world. This year, a central feature is a monument to the late rose breeder David Austin (1926 – 2018), who exhibited at RHS Chelsea Flower Show an impressive 36 times, winning a total of 24 gold medals.
Irises are making a comeback in 2019
Green-fingered visitors, take note: the Great Pavilion is the birthing ground of many a flora and fauna trend and offers plenty of inspiration if you're looking to stay one step ahead with your garden. Trends this year include the rise of urban farming and the return of irises (you heard it here first), while gardening products to covet include small and stylish Husk Swan watering cans, and outdoor wood-fired ovens.
Don’t leave the Pavilion before taking the time to look at Florella’s Future: commissioned by Birmingham City Council, this stunning garden – complete with miniature figurines – aims to raise awareness of single-use plastic and the need to recycle.
The Space to Grow Gardens
Having replaced the Fresh Gardens at last year’s flower show, the Space to Grow gardens return this year, reflecting new trends and planting patterns in the horticultural world today, and hoping to inspire the gardener in all of us.
Jilayne Rickards’ ‘Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow’ Garden
Among the highlights of the Space to Grow Gardens is Jilayne Rickards’ ‘Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow’. With its vibrant colours (lush green crops sprouting out of red soil) and climate-smart agriculture, this female-led landscape is facing forward.
With its sharp geometric angles and medicinal fauna – not to mention its calming stream – Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Sato’s ‘Kampo No Niwa’ garden is quite the sight to behold. Head on in and take a seat to experience the installation to the fullest.
One of the most charming gardens in the whole show this year is the ‘Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden’. Like the Montessori teaching method, the garden – designed by Jody Lidgard – is child-led. Within its confines, little ones can grow micro vegetables, study pond wildlife and interact with a living, breathing wall.
The Artisan Gardens
Tucked away to the left Main Avenue (if you're facing the river), the Artisan Gardens are easy to miss, but offer some of the most aesthetically-pleasing spectacles of the whole show. Wander along the woodland trail and first stop to admire Graham Bodle’s ‘Walkers’ Forgotten Quarry Garden'. With its rustic coloured flowers and fiery wood-burning stove, it's a visual feast of cosy, autumnal escapism.
Meanwhile, the Donkey Sanctury’s ‘Donkeys Matter’ Garden, designed by Christina Williams and Annie Prebensen, is extremely soothing to behold, thanks to its blue and purple hues, and powerful scent of lavender.
The Donkey Sanctury's 'Donkeys Matter' Garden
Food and drink at RHS Chelsea Flower Show
Garden jumping all day is bound to leave you hungry and thankfully, the Artisan Gardens neighbour the site's collection of gourmet food trucks and the champagne tent. The Fortnum & Mason marquee is also close by, serving seafood platters and light bites as well as drinks. Don't forget, you can also bring-your-own picnic and enjoy the great outdoors at the Band Stand, a special area for dedicated al-fresco diners. Or, head out of the site and waft towards Belgravia, admiring the 50+ Belgravia in Bloom installations across Elizabeth Street, Motcomb Street, Pimlico Road and Eccleston Yards as you go.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 runs from Tuesday 21 May to Saturday 25 May. The show opens at 8am and closes at 8pm from Tuesday until Friday, and on Saturday 25 May the event will be open from 8am until 5:30pm. Click here to find tickets
|What||RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2019|
|Where||Royal Hospital Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4SR | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Sloane Square (underground)|
21 May 19 – 25 May 19, Ends at 5.30pm on Saturday 25th May
|Price||£from £30.00 with members discounts available|
|Website||Click here to book tickets|