The importance of gardening and growing plants to help tackle some of the biggest issues facing us today will be key themes at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Celebrating gardens as beautiful havens to escape and enjoy, the designs demonstrate how they can bring a sense of normality to fractured lives and also how they can help tackle major environmental issues.
Sue Biggs CBE, Director General of the RHS says:
“It is fantastic to see the gardens at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show are reminding us all of the power of plants and the huge impact gardening and green spaces can have on so many aspects of our lives.”
RHS Feel Good Garden
Encouraging show-goers to sit back and soak up the benefits that gardening can bring, the RHS Feel Good Garden, designed by twice-winner of the RHS/BBC People’s Choice Award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Matt Keightley, is a contemporary and therapeutic space which focusses on health and wellbeing.
The design highlights how gardening, or simply being in a garden or green space, can make you feel happier and healthier. There is increasing evidence on the positive impact that gardens and gardening can have on our health and promoting this important message is a key element of this garden.
Matt is currently designing a health and wellbeing themed garden around the Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, and the RHS Feel Good Garden has been inspired by his plans for the Garden there, which will open in 2020.
The Lemon Tree Trust Garden
The power of plants to improve people’s lives is embodied in debut designer Tom Massey's Show Garden, inspired by the ingenuity, resilience and determination of people in situations of forced migration.
The Syrian refugees of the Domiz Camp in Northern Iraq have themselves been involved with the design, which shows their incredible ability to make the most from the harsh landscape and living conditions.
Showcasing a drought-tolerant planting scheme typical of the region, trees laden with fruit provide scent and crops to harvest. The garden includes edibles and herbs used in Middle Eastern cooking, some of which will be unfamiliar to us, along with cultivars of the Damask Rose - thought to originate from Syria – renowned for its heady fragrance.
Ingenious vertical planting, inspired by refugees’ use of everyday objects, provides visitors with ideas for growing in limited spaces, while the importance of the reuse of grey water is acknowledged with recycled water emerging from an Islamic-inspired fountain in the centre of the garden.
The garden is filled with reclaimed, reused, repurposed and upcycled materials. From reclaimed brick walls, to plastic bottles used as planters, the ideas, although sourced directly from refugee gardens in the Domiz camp, are equally relevant for gardeners with small plots or limited space in the UK.
The Weston Garden
Tom Stuart-Smith, master planner for the new RHS Garden Bridgewater, takes centre stage in The Great Pavilion with a celebration of 60 years of the Garfield Weston Foundation. The Weston Garden welcomes you into a romantic and inspirational garden, with secret spaces revealed on turning every corner and with a secluded refuge in the centre.
The garden, which balances modernity with tradition, has plenty of ideas to take home. Most of the items are recycled: some of the plants have been to Chelsea before and are being borrowed for the show, while reclaimed York stone and limestone slips help to promote the message of environmental responsibility and sustainability.
At the heart of the garden, three large flowering Cornus kousa set the tone for the planting, which is dominated by plants that thrive in good, moisture-retentive soil such as Rodgersia, Iris sibirica, Thalictrum, Disporum and Euphorbia wallichii.
The garden is designed with four entrances so that visitors can see it from different angles - emphasising the open approach of the Weston Foundation and the support it has given to charities across the UK to help make them more accessible to the public. The openness at the front of the garden develops into a more wooded area at the back where there are steps up to a small terrace. A screen of tall trees including holm oak and beech creates a tall leafy backdrop.
Along with the power to make us feel better, this year's gardens are also highlighting the environmental challenges which face us, and have provided some ingenius solutions.
Tony Woods, RHS Young Designer of the year 2013, has designed Urban Flow, a garden to accommodate the conditions of a changing climate, creating a vision for water conservation and environmentally-considerate landscaping, while maintaining a practical and versatile outdoor living space. His clever planting is used within the design to deflect and process pollution and excess rain fall, as well as to attract and sustain wildlife.
The Pearlfisher Garden, from the Space to Grow garden category, addresses the devastating impact of plastic waste on our oceans while at the same time celebrating the beauty of its underwater gardens. Featuring a series of aquatic tanks containing fish with cacti and succulents used to imitate the structure and form of underwater coral, the design is a call-to-action to brands, businesses and designers to create sustainable lifecycles for products and packaging.
Discover more about the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show Gardens
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