Chelsea Flower Show 2017: take a tour of the stunning show gardens and medal winners

Pattie Barron picks her favourite show gardens at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.

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The M&G Garden has a Maltese vibe
Best in Show 

Talented James Basson lives in the south of France but has no time to soak up the sun on a beach. The designer has taken Chelsea by storm these past two years with his Gold-medal gardens. This year he has done the same, with his garden simulating an abandoned Maltese quarry, right, for M&G Investments, the show’s sponsors.

The plot features blocks of limestone interplanted with resilient perennials and groundcover found on Mediterranean shrubland and clifftops — and perhaps, after this year’s show, in our gardens, too.

500 years of Covent Garden
​Silver medal-winner

Covent Garden's floral heritage is the theme of Lee Bestall’s evocative garden, right, sponsored by Capco, the owners of this historic neighbourhood of central London.

The metal arches are facsimiles of those in the original market garden, while the patio area is symbolic of Covent Garden Piazza and the magnificent apple trees were pulled out of retirement, to denote the district’s origins as the orchard garden of Westminster Abbey.

The benches are inspired by apple crates and the coffee table is furniture designer Jonathan Stockton’s contemporary take on a cider press.

RHS Greening Grey Britain
Designed by pioneering Professor Nigel Dunnett, whose credits include the Olympic Park meadows and the Barbican roof garden, this ideas-rich communal plot, above, created around a high-rise apartment block offers a blueprint to meet the challenges of both climate change and rapid urban development. Wetland areas capture water to irrigate the garden, the sustainable planting is, says Dunnett, “low input, high impact”, and walkways are random-cut pieces from municipal concrete slabs. “We’re hoping to start a crazy paving revival,” adds Dunnett.

As part of the RHS Greening Grey Britain initiative, the garden is not included in the Chelsea judging.

The lyrical Morgan Stanley Garden
Silver-gilt medal-winner

“I have often thought that the orchestration of a garden must share similarities with the orchestration of music,” says Chris Beardshaw, explaining the lyrical planting in his garden for Morgan Stanley. Thus, to his mind the lush green woodland at the front summons up Bach while the sunny, open terrace is richly planted with jewel-coloured perennials, inspired by the celebratory, upbeat notes of Mozart. Beardshaw, a passionate plantsman, grew many of the 3,000 herbaceous plants in the show garden himself.

Beneath a Mexican Sky
Silver-gilt medal-winner

Londoners should be more adventurous with colour, says designer Manoj Malde, top. He illustrates his point with roughly rendered walls in luscious clementine, coral and cappuccino shades for his garden, above, sponsored by Inland Homes. Called Beneath a Mexican Sky, it is fired by the colours and shapes used by modernist architect Luis Barragán. Although this sun-washed paradise might look too tropical to suit our urban plots, Malde says that many of the plants will withstand our winters, and the splashy-flowered botanical cushions are weatherproof.

Silk Road Garden
Silver-gilt medal-winner

We forget the heritage of our garden plants, says Patrick Collins who, together with Laurie Chetwood, reminds us, via the exquisite planting in their Silk Road Garden, left, that many of today’s favourites come from China, including the peony, laburnum, primula and buddleia.

Although the design duo only received funding in February from the Chinese government, they have put on a spectacular show garden that depicts the historical Silk Road trade route, complete with rosy-red mountain range and tree line beneath.


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