Among the highlights this year was multi-award winning designer Cleve West’s return for RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsor M&G Investments, with a garden inspired by his memory of the ancient oak woodland on Exmoor National Park. The M&G Garden featured approximately 30–40 tonnes of stone, sourced from a quarry in the Forest of Dean, and included a stone and gravel path with woodland-edge planting leading to a sunken terrace and pool.
Author and presenter Ann-Marie Powell created the official RHS Garden for Chelsea 2016, a Garden for Health Happiness and Horticulture.
Her colourful front garden design celebrated the health and wellbeing benefits of Greening Grey Britain, the RHS call to action to get the nation to transform hard, cold grey areas into living, beautiful places.
Following along the same theme, Jekka McVicar, author, broadcaster and organic gardening expert, created A Modern Apothecary for St John’s Hospice. Jekka used plants selected for their medical practices. which were then recycled to a hospital or care home in the UK. Her inspiration came from conversations about what we can do to improve our own health within the context of gardens and plants, as well as the healing power of plants and the quote by Hippocrates, ‘Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.’
TV gardener Diarmuid Gavin, who won Gold with a multi-tiered garden in 2011, presented The British Eccentrics Garden, sponsored by Harrods. He designed a gentle garden of terraces and topiary complete with an octagonal folly and a sunken Italianate pond.
Box balls set amid the floral drifts began to bob up and down, conical bay trees began to twirl, and colourful planting rose from the ground to dress the first-floor windows.
At the end of the garden, a wooden shed housed contraptions created from cogs, wheels, straps and parts of old bicycles which form the garden gadgetry.
Great Pavilion perennial Rosy Hardy branched out with her first Show Garden, Forever Freefolk, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin. It was inspired by endangered chalk streams, which provide a rich habitat for aquatic plants, insects and wildlife, but are slowly disappearing. With only 210 left in the world, 160 of which are in England, Rosy’s garden tracked the path of a vanished chalk stream in north Hampshire as it passed through various transitional planting: from the arid stream bed through the chalk downland to the lush planting that fringes the beautiful clear waters of its source.
Combining stylistic elements of the East and West, Chihori Shibayama & Tea Yano created their first Chelsea Show Garden for Watahan & Co, which aimed to convey the diverse cultures of the UK and Japan. The design reflected both the manicured minimalist Zen gardens of Japan while incorporating the dense informal planting styles found in the UK. Designed for people living in urban areas, The Watahan East & West Garden aimed to make visitors feel they can move seamlessly between two cultures united within a single landscape.
After winning Gold in 2015, Chris Beardshaw returned to Chelsea with a garden for Morgan Stanley, which has a new home at Great Ormond Street Hospital after the show. Other 2015 Gold-medal winners include James Basson with The L’Occitane Garden; Jo Thompson, who designed The Chelsea Barracks Garden; RHS Young Designer of the Year 2010 Hugo Bugg, back with Royal Bank of Canada Garden; and Andy Sturgeon with The Telegraph Garden which featured the work of 10 different craftsman including architectural ironworks, artists, sculptors, ceramists and more.
Read about all of the gardens at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016.
Front Garden Summit at Chelsea Flower Show