Chelsea Flower Show - what we can expect this year

Posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, arguably the most prestigious garden show in the world, is just under two months away now and we’ve been keeping our ears to the ground to find out what treats are in store this year. So here are just a few of the delights you can expect:

  • Olympic Park garden co-designer Sarah Price will be designing the Daily Telegraph show garden this year. This will be her first full-size Chelsea show garden, having won silver medals in the past for small gardens. The garden will portray a romantic view of British landscapes with flowing meadows, limestone pools, a glade of birches and copper detailing to evoke the mineral rich streams of north Wales and Dartmoor. And the pressure’s definitely on for Sarah as the Daily Telegraph garden has won best show garden for the last three years!


Part of the 2011 Daily Telegraph garden designed by
Cleve West which won Best Show Garden.

  • The BBC’s Joe Swift will be designing Homebase’s show garden at Chelsea this year. The company will also be promoting its new ‘Chelsea Garden Collection’ of plants which will include Cosmos ‘Choca Mocha’ and Festuca glauca ‘Festina’.
  • If you’re worried about drought, Chelsea could be a good bet for some cunning garden ideas. Nick Dexter will be designing the Southern Water garden for the new ‘Fresh Garden’ category at this year’s show. Water for the garden will be provided by a pool which releases water via a sluice gate. Planting will include Achillea, Allium, Aster, Calamintha and Euphorbia varieties, and will focus on plants which are easily sourced in the UK.
  • The Hillier Nursery display at Chelsea this year will deal with the topic of fencing…but not the garden kind! They have taken their inspiration from the Olympic event and the Queen’s patronage of the British Fencing Association to create a design and planting scheme to suggest the various aspects of this elegant sport.
  • The Caravan Club will be sponsoring their own garden this year, designed by Jo Thompson. The display will include a caravan brought over from the Isle of Wight alongside irises, roses, Betula albosinensis ‘Fascination’ and Anthriscus Slyvestris ‘Ravenswing’.
  • Investment Management company Brewin Dolphin are celebrating their 250th anniversary with a Chelsea garden designed by Cleve West. The garden will combine contemporary design with British gardening traditions to create a ‘formal and timeless’ garden using tightly clipped yew topiary and beech hedging alongside shrubs, perennials and annuals. The colours will include whites, lime greens and yellows.
  • Andy Sturgeon will be designing the M&G garden at this year’s show and has been inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s to create a garden with a strong asymmetric quality. This will be created using paths and terraces combined with a mirrored water channel and a ‘floating’ oak bench. The simplistic style of the garden will feature natural materials such as aged copper, English oak and Purbeck stone alongside a striking ‘energy wave’ sculpture hewn from copper rings.
  • Furzey Gardens, Hampshire, are working with designer Chris Beardshaw to create a garden with a team from the Minstead Training Project, a training centre for adults with learning disabilities. The garden, on a sloping site at the show, will include an imposing ‘lantern’ structure incorporating glass leaves made by the students.
  • Plankbridge Hutmaker’s garden will be displaying the first ever shepherd’s hut to feature at Chelsea. The Artisan Garden’s design will reflect the scenery of Dorset, where the firm are based.
  • Alongside the show preparations, the RHS are also reviewing the panels used in judging show gardens. They are considering introducing non-horticulturalist judges to give more breadth to the assessment of gardens as well as making the process less secretive. This could include architects, furniture designers or even ‘wildcard’ judges such as clothes designers or actors. While not affecting this year’s Chelsea, the review panel is due to report in March.
  • And if you’re not going to Chelsea itself you can still get into the mood with the ‘Chelsea Fringe Festival’. This new event will take place in sites around London from late May to early June and will include floral boats cruising the Thames, secret gardens in lorries parked on street corners and guerrilla pavement gardening. It will also showcase community garden projects and public gardens.