Diarmuid Gavin’s British Eccentrics Garden
Diarmuid Gavin’s British Eccentrics Garden, inspired by inventor William Heath Robinson, is not surprisingly the talk of Chelsea. The topiary trees twirl, the flowerbeds revolve, window boxes levitate and even the tool shed, pictured here, houses contraptions that spring into life every 15 minutes, accompanied by the melody of An English Country Garden. Only at Chelsea!
The Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital
Nestled in between cushions of yew, this serene verdigris face is just one delight in a calm, green woodland-inspired garden which has pockets of
colourful flowers. The garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw, is the Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital, where it is destined to be sited as a permanent home.
The Heucheraholics stand
Heucheras, quite rightly, are having more than a moment in the sun - or in the shade, too, where they thrive. They make the best evergreen plants and are available in so many stunning shades, from acid green to near black.
Just take a look at the Heucheraholics (heucheraholics.co.uk) stand, which enterprisingly shows a row of beach huts, heuchera’d to the hilt with plants both hanging and rooftop.
Garden designer Andy Sturgeon
Andy Sturgeon, one of our country’s top garden designers, is renowned for his exceptional planting and this year he may well start a stampede for isoplexis, which is the name of this gorgeous exotic foxglove with apricot-orange flowers that flourishes through his garden for The Telegraph. The Isoplexis canariensis is native to the Canary Isles and not reliably hardy, but lucky Londoners with sheltered gardens can probably get away with pulling it through winter. Order it from www.burncoose.co.uk
The Brewin Dolphin Garden
The finishing touches are being added to Rosy Hardy’s beautifully planted The Brewin Dolphin Garden, but what draws the eye is the huge space-age sphere of reinforced aluminium within the planting. In fact, it represents, Rosy tells us, what chalk looks like at a microscopic level, and it’s called a coccosphere, which makes little sense until you know that the garden explores the fragility of our country’s rare and beautiful chalk streams which are threatened by pollution and climate change.
Diarmuid Gavin's British Eccentrics Garden
The gap between the turret and the tower should give you a clue or two as to which garden this is: Diarmuid Gavin’s British Eccentrics Garden, where the turret tips open, the conical bays twirl, the circular beds dance around the folly while two planted troughs rise from the ground.
It’s a slice of magic, but novelty acts aside, the planting is simply sublime. Diarmuid calls it an English Garden on acid...
All pictures by Pattie Barron
Diarmuid Gavin's British Eccentrics Garden
Could this be the most glorious herbaceous border ever? Diarmuid Gavin has pulled out all the stops for his British Eccentrics Garden, including a planting scheme that is just sumptuous.
Pink and white foxgloves, The Fairy rose, cerise penstemons and orange geums are major players. And those ravishing rich apricot flower spires popping up all over the place? Eremurus!
The RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden for Health, Happiness and Horticulture
Ann Marie Powell is looking chuffed about her show garden, as well she might. The RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden for Health, Happiness and Horticulture practically bounces with energy, just like Ann Marie, even though there is still work to be done.
“This is meant to be a garden for everybody,” says Ann Marie, “and what better way to do that than with sackloads of colour!”
That vibrant climbing rose that romps along the pergola on the left is Westerland, a flamboyant bright orange.
Meet some of Chelsea's Unsung Heroes
Meet one of Chelsea’s Unsung Heroes. Mark Gregory of Landform is probably the most deserving of this title.
The garden behind him is The Hartley Botanic Garden - a glasshouse rising out of water - and this is the 150th RHS garden that the super-talented Mark has built with his trusty team.
This year he celebrates 27 years at Chelsea and this is also the year in which, during this Chelsea week, there is, for the first time, a celebration of the Show’s Unsung Heroes - the boys behind the gardens, who painstakingly put them together and achieve the impossible.
A winner will be announced and what’s the betting it will be Mr Gregory.
RHS greening Grey Britain Garden for Health, Happiness and Horticulture
The potting shed in the RHS greening Grey Britain Garden for Health, Happiness and Horticulture is a repurposed and repainted - bright orange - shipping container.
Although the interior has yet to be finished, 48 hours before countdown, a lineup of violet orchids are in place, along with a wrapped-up bright orange fridge topped with a pink and green cactus plant.
On the roof is a potted kitchen garden, with aubergines growing in a galvanised bin and trailing tomatoes spilling from plastic pots.
And here’s another Unsung Hero
….Manoj Malde, a garden designer in his own right who is helping out, as he has done with other Chelsea gardens in the past, on Nick Bailey’s superb Beauty of Mathematics Garden - one of a team of 39 in total.
The exquisite copper water feature, created by sculptor Giles Rayner (gilesrayner.com), who has his own stand at Chelsea this year, apes the perfect symmetry and patterning of the surrounding succulents.
The Belvedere on the Beauty of Mathematics Garden
This garden is topped with a copper planter that overflows with trailing plants, and that band of copper flows through the garden, becoming a stair banister as well as bench.
It represents an emerging seedling, and at the same time is etched with plant growth algorithms. The garden’s concept and planting plan is a labour of love created by Nick Bailey, who more usually is head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Two familiar faces
...and veterans of Chelsea Flower Show - are great mates Joe Swift, left, and Andy Sturgeon, both seasoned Chelsea Gold Medallists.
This year Joe is here in his familiar role as TV presenter during Chelsea Flower Show week and Andy is back at Chelsea with a cracking show garden for The Telegraph which is inspired by the geological events that have shaped our landscape over millions of years.
Nick Bailey’s Beauty of Mathematics Garden
This little stunner represents the key colours of Chelsea this year: a luscious palette of apricot and oranges. The plants are waiting in the wings to be installed on Nick Bailey’s Beauty of Mathematics Garden.
Lewisias are spring-flowering perennials that should be in all our gardens, especially in mouth-watering shades such as these.
M & G show garden
Never mind the tub trugs, focus on the planting, and the wonderful way Design supremo Cleve West has made this glorious show garden for
M & G, the show’s main sponsors, look like a little piece of planting somewhere in, say, Exmoor, which is precisely what Cleve intended.
The garden is inspired by his memory of ancient oak woodland in Exmoor National Park, where he spent his teenage youth. All we can say, open-mouthed with admiration, is that he must have a photographic memory.
M & G Garden
More subtle naturalistic effects from Cleve West on the M & G Garden, showing how a boulder can be beautiful as well as being a great starting point for a planting scheme.
A Modern Apothecary show garden
Jekka ‘Herb Queen’ McVicar’s gorgeous garden, A Modern Apothecary, could be literally dropped into a London back garden…and don’t you wish it was yours!
In fact after the show it will be reinstalled at the St John’s Hospice at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in north London, the sponsors of the garden, which is inspired by the healing power of plants and a quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” This garden is food for all the senses….
A Modern Apothecary show garden
Three great copiable ideas for small gardens within A Modern Apothecary show garden: a pebble path for walking on barefoot and giving your feet a great workout; a central tapestry of thymes that you could walk on, too, for a softer, aromatic carpet; a bench backed with willow. Jekka McVicar, the designer and the UK’s leading herb expert, wanted every plant in the garden to have a purpose in the field of medicine, and willow is no exception: its Latin name is salix, from which salicylic acid is derived, a key component in aspirin.
British Eccentrics Garden
Diarmuid Gavin’s sensational all-singing, all-dancing British Eccentrics Garden will surely be the talk of Chelsea this coming week, but as the man himself says, the garden has to work with the planting alone, without all the Heath Robinson effects.
And it does: the planting is exquisite, but then he does have as his PA - his planting assistant, as he calls her - the celebrated Helen Dillon, who has one of the most beautiful gardens in Ireland and whose planting prowess is unsurpassed. What a dynamic duo!
Shaking it all about
Always one to cut a dash and, even at times to bop around the borders, the all-singing, all-dancing and perennially cheerful garden designer Ann-Marie Powell states the obvious: It’s Chelsea Flower Show time! Ann-Marie designed the RHS Greening Grey Britain Garden to promote health, happiness and horticulture. We will be bringing you pictures of that community garden during the show.
Flowery frocks are de rigueur at Chelsea, and to prove the point, M & G, title sponsors of the show for the seventh year, asked floral designer Larry Walshe to create a dress that draws inspiration from their woodland-themed show garden on Main Avenue. The result is a fairytale frock featuring 1,800 mixed fern leaves and more than 460 flowers entwined with willow branches. The dress took 10 days to create, but the garden took designer Cleve West 10 months to get it from initial sketch to showground.
A Modern Apothecary Garden
One of the prettiest gardens promises to be A Modern Apothecary Garden, designed by Britain's queen of herbs, Jekka McVicar. To be installed within the gardens of the St John & St Elizabeth Hospice in north London when the show is over, this little patch of paradise is packed with plants that all have a purpose. Aside from their healing powers, the tactile, fragrant herbs and their gentle colour palette create a restful haven.
Cloudy Bay Garden
This partly-completed western red cedarwood cabin sits in a comfortable surrounding of pine trees and heathland planting, complete with grasses and... heathers. Could heathers, never a fashionable plant, be taking the naturalistic mood a touch too far? Visitors will decide and, when you see the finished garden, you can decide, too, by voting online for the People’s Choice Award, which opens on the first day of the show. See www.rhs.org.uk
The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden
Nick Bailey, designer of The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden, is taking no chances in his garden. Mathematics is all about accuracy and detail so he flew over from Japan his three planting ninjas, Eiko, Tsyako and Motoko. Nick says: “These extraordinary gardeners have the capacity to wade into complex delicate planting schemes, make an adjustment and return without leaving a trace of ever having been there."
Nick Bailey's show garden
Nick Bailey’s three Japanese gardeners at work in his Main Avenue show garden. The shapely trees are given the celebrated Japanese cloud topiary treatment to display their beauty to the max. These are gardeners who keep entire lawns in trim not with mowers, but scissors. Yes, really.
Garden designer Butter Wakefield
Butter Wakefield is one of Chelsea's unsung heroes who every year has a finger in many pies. This London-based garden designer has a great sense of style and planting prowess and the RHS has given her several commissions this year. She is pictured planting a woven willow sphere with ferns and shade-loving plants to be suspended above the trees in the Artisan Gardens area.
Preparing the entrance
More hard work behind the scenes, or rather in front of them, on the main roundabout at the Bull Ring entrance to the show: Butter is pictured planting a charming mini-border in front of an M & G-branded taxi - M & G Investments are the Show's sponsors for the seventh year running - with orange geums and yellow verbascums the stars of this exercise in country-garden.
Garden designer Tatyana Goltsova
The Fresh Gardens category always has real gems, and the jewel in the crown promises to be The Imperial Garden: Revive, by Russian garden designer Tatyana Goltsova, pictured. The garden - only the second from Russia in the show’s history - explores the complex relationships between Russia, Ukraine and the UK. More than 800 kilos of crafted aluminium lace is being draped over the planting, as pictured, before floating across a pool and forming a swirling bench. It should be sensational.
Sculptor Victoria Chichinadze
For the Imperial Garden: Revive, Ukrainian sculptor Victoria Chichinadze spent the last year hand-cutting one tonne of aluminium into the lace design which winds through the garden. Victoria also designed the bronze water feature River of Time, pictured here with Victoria, which blends with the aluminium lace to create a focal point.
Jo Thompson’s show garden
Inspired by the Chelsea Barracks site and the new development next to the Royal Hospital, roses feature prominently in designer Jo Thompson’s show garden, The Chelsea Barracks Garden. The bronze uprights are in place, but without the roses the space does look a little bare. However Jo, on the left of the two girls in hi-vis vests, doesn’t look too concerned, despite the fact that there is less than a week to go before curtain up...
The Chelsea Barracks Garden
…That’s better! Just a few days on, and the planting for The Chelsea Barracks Garden, designed by show regular Jo Thompson, is well under way. Given the choice of predominating flowers - sumptuous roses and peonies in deliciously deep shades, pink foxgloves and pale green angelica - this garden is going to be very popular with the crowds. No wonder Jo is smiling.
Designer Matthew Wilson
The detail that going into the gardens at Chelsea is staggering, and so are the challenges the designers give themselves. Design supremo Matthew Wilson took inspiration from the East Window at York Minster, the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain and yes, that’s right, the central feature in his garden is a stained-glass window with colours specific to medieval glass making.
God’s Own Country - A Garden for Yorkshire
Here is the part of the stained-glass window in Matthew Wilson’s ambitious show garden, God’s Own Country - A Garden for Yorkshire. The real East Window at York Minster is currently undergoing major restoration and will be revealed in all its glory in 2018.
A plant of the year contender
This prettiest pink alstroemeria, Summer Party, is a one-to-watch entry in Chelsea’s plant of the year contest.
The Garden of Mindful Living show garden
Vestra Wealth’s Garden of Mindful Living, designed by Paul Martin, has no buddha statues, but, with dappled shade from multi-stemmed trees, water rills trickling through low limestone walls and a long, lean terrace designed with yoga practice in mind, it is for city lovers who yearn for a quiet, calm space to restore life’s balance.
M&G Investments show garden
Winner of five Chelsea golds and twice winner of best in show, Cleve West is back with a contemporary garden inspired by the timeless woodlands of Exmoor.
Calla lily Nashville
Must-have new plants to be launched in the Great Pavilion include Zantedeschia Nashville, a raspberry-streaked white calla lily from Brighter Blooms.
Moustache Rose from Cayeux Iris
The Moustache Rose is another one of this year's must-have new plants.
What a great idea! A glossy fibreglass bowl especially made for holding a minipond of water-loving plants. In three sizes - 60cm, 80cm and 98cm - and in a wide range of luscious colours including hot orange and sea blue, Waterside Nursery’s mini pond is a must-have for the contemporary town garden or balcony, for that matter. Prices start at a modest £140; www.watersidenursery.co.uk
LG Smart Garden
Pity poor Darragh, although he does look happy enough. Part of the Randle Siddeley contractors team, he has been polishing every single pebble between the stepping stones of the contemporary LG Smart Garden so that they positively gleam, showing that Chelsea show gardens are all about the small details making a difference to the big picture.