'Feel Good Gardens' come to Chelsea

A collection of feel-good gardens to celebrate the senses, championed by some favourite celebrities


the wall of scent association in the scent garden
A new kind of garden delighted visitors (in more ways than one) at the 2017 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The BBC and the RHS launched the 'BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens', which aimed to uplift the senses and encourage people to lose themselves amongst a feast of sights, scents, sounds, flavours and textures to feel happier, calmer and generally better about the world.  

The five gardens, designed by Sarah Raven, James Alexander-Sinclair, Jon Wheatley, Matt Keightley and design duo Kate Savill and Tamara Bridge, showed how plants can enrich and indulge one of the five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. The gardens also celebrated BBC Radio 2's fiftieth anniversary, and were named after different Radio 2 presenters. On Monday 22 May, Chris Evans broadcast from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show from 6.30 - 9.30am.

Chris Evans said; "I was beyond thrilled to be taking the Radio 2 Breakfast Show to Chelsea and to work with Mary Berry on one of the Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens. We went al fresco and gardening bonkers for a very special show at the world’s most prestigious horticultural happening.”

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “We were incredibly excited about Radio 2 being at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and enjoyed celebrating the joy of gardening with their listeners... the Feel Good Gardens were a reminder that we need to give our senses a treat, get out into the garden and get close to nature.”


The five BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens were:  

The Taste Garden - click to enlargeThe Chris Evans Taste Garden was designed by Jon Wheatley, who asked friend of the Radio 2 breakfast show Mary Berry to help celebrate the tastiest plants growing in UK gardens, by growers on allotments and in many communities. Plants that excited and stimulated your palate and enhanced your lifestyle and health and wellbeing featured in this garden.

Mary Berry, says: “The garden bursted with delicious and tasty plants to whet the appetite and help people feel good by enhancing their lifestyle and health and well-being.”

The Scent Garden (click to enlarge)The Jo Whiley Scent Garden was designed by Tamara Bridge, RHS Young Designer of the Year 2015, and Kate Savill. Tamara and Kate asked fragrance designer Jo Malone to help create the garden, which included aromas that transported you to a time or place such as woodland walks, rain on warm paving, fresh earth and new leaf growth, or freshly cut flowers from the garden. Both Jo Malone and Jo Whiley visited the show during the build to help with planting.


Anneka Rice GardenThe Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden was designed by Sarah Raven and inspired by Tricia Guild’s renowned use of colour at Designers Guild. Every square inch of space gave you flowers, flowers and more flowers. It was a profusion of colour and concentrated on plants for cutting that gave a repeat crop. Gold, the colour for 50th Wedding Anniversaries, featured in this garden to celebrate 50 years of Radio 2.

The Tactile Garden (click to enlarge)The Jeremy Vine Texture Garden was designed by Matt Keightley and was an immersive, tactile garden that featured bold, geometric forms juxtaposed with a soft and elegant planting palette. Varying material finishes and planting structure seemingly evolved through the space to create a garden people wanted to interact with and relax in.


The Listening Garden (click to enlarge)The Zoe Ball Listening Garden, designed by James Alexander-Sinclair aimed to reproduce the feeling you get when you stand too close to a speaker stack at a concert; the sensation of feeling music through your whole body. While you couldn't hear the sound of music at the garden, it was visible in water patterns within water features and felt through the floor. The music came from the last 50 years of Radio 2.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.