Chelsea Flower Show 2013: the highlights and medal winners

Pattie Barron highlights the best of this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show gardens
Click to follow
Click here for more highlights from this year's Chelsea Flower Show on Pattie Barron's blog

Journey of the century
Gold medal winner

Charged with designing the ultimate centenary garden for Chelsea Flower Show’s sponsors M&G what else could the country’s fêted plantsman Roger Platts do but take us for a saunter through 100 years of British gardens? For anyone who wants to steal planting ideas, this is the template. Shadeloving plants include ferns, foxgloves, acers and irises; grasses and wildflowers reflect the current style for looser, more natural planting, and more than 40 different roses indicate that some flowers will never go out of fashion.

Journey of the century
© All pictures by Marianne Majerus
Gold medal winner: Journey of the Century designed by Roger Platts

Exuberant sculptures
Gold medal winner

Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Arthritis Research UK shows some of the plants used in the treatment of the condition: Rosa rubrifolia, high in vitamin C; oil from borage flowers, extracts of oak, pine and birch, but it also shows the journey of emotions from pain (shaded woodland at the back), understanding and learning (the open, more formal centre) and liberation (the exuberant planting in the foreground), echoed with equally exuberant sculptures by Michelle Castles. For a brochure on gardening with arthritis, visit

Gold medal winner: Exuberant Sculptures, designed by Chris Beardshaw

Modern British
Gold medal winner

The Brewin Dolphin Garden is crisp and modern — yet relies for the most part on British native plants. Designer Robert Myers encourages us to take a closer look at field and hedgerow flowers and grasses, and shows how to juxtapose them with sculptural domes of neatly clipped box. “A garden full of native plants doesn’t have to look like a nature reserve,” says Myers, who paints the boundary walls shocking pink to team them with garnet cow parsley Anthriscus Ravenswing and red campion.

Brewin Dolphin Garden
Gold medal winner: The Brewin Dolphin Garden designed by Robert Myers

Use what’s there
Gold medal winner

“Imagine you were given a piece of waste ground to turn into a garden,” muses Kate Gould, who created The Wasteland, an imaginative garden created from former industrial ground. “Wouldn’t it make sense to use what is already there?” Gould’s great upcycling ideas include making a bench from an old fridge, grille walkways from a ship and boundary screens from shopping trolleys. The water feature? A former washing-machine drum.

Kate Gould
Gold medal winner: The Use What's There garden, designed by Kate Gould

All is not as it seems
Silver-gilt medal winner

Leather makes its debut at Chelsea Flower Show, with panels of appliquéd flowers that emulate the living blooms growing in the Massachusetts Garden; peer at the pond and you will see that the water and lilies are fakery, too, because they are also made of leather. Handbag designer Susannah Hunter turned her hand to floral appliqué, and responds to doubters who wonder how leather lasts in the garden by saying: “You carry your bag outdoors, don’t you?” Any grubby marks, she says, can be cleaned off with baby wipes. Expect to pay £1,000 upwards for a bespoke leather panel.

Silver-gilt medal winner: All Is Not As It Seems, designed by Susannah Hunter

Touch gardening
Silver-gilt winner

The SeeAbility Garden has been designed by Darren Hawkes to raise awareness about the effects of visual impairment, by expressing sight conditions through different garden features. Thus curtains of stainless steel lightreflecting spheres represent blind spots, and walls of cut copper tubing show how those with tunnel vision might view plants. Even if you attach no significance to the structures, the garden makes an exciting, contemporary space.

Touch Garden
Silver-gilt winner: Touch Gardening - the SeeAbility Garden designed by Darren Hawkes

Pictures by Marianne Majerus

Click here for more highlights from this year's Chelsea Flower Show on Pattie Barron's blog.

Follow us on Twitter @HomesProperty, Facebook and Instagram