Endorsed by

Spring bloom: A postcard from the 2017 Chelsea Garden Show

Arguably the oldest and most distinguished garden trade show in the world, the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in London is packed with lush plants and besotted gardeners. Held during spring in the spacious grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, it is centred in a vast marquee filled with the finest display of flowering plants I’ve ever seen: massed fuschias, chrysanthemums, roses, peonies and countless others.

At the heart of the exhibits, the famous Hillier nurseries assembled a vast array of plants at the peak of their perfection. Nearby, Flora Toscana from Pescia in Italy had a handsome display of South African and Australian shrubs, including many Protea species, Waratahs, Banksia baxteris and Banksia menziesiis.

Outside the marquee were a number of spectacular show gardens, each following a specific theme. One featured a series of gardens suitable for the lobbies and terraces of apartment buildings, intensively planted with Australian tree ferns and other shade-loving plants; another, enfolded by Japanese maples, was inspired by the Kyoto Imperial Palace gardens. Perhaps the most architectural was the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, with its geometric concrete forms capturing pockets of moss, in views framed by dwarf Pinus mugo.

Of course like any trade show there was the counterbalance of the ordinary: acres of garden furniture and gazebos, hothouses clipped together with frameless glass, and a lot of very average garden sculptures. But for the true garden enthusiast, the range of design ideas and plant material at Chelsea is breathtaking.

Like going to Venice for the architecture Biennale, the Chelsea Garden Show is something that any interested person should visit at least once in their lifetime!

Related topics

More review

See all
Nic Monisse performs Urban Jungle, a quirky comedy show around landscape architecture and urban design at the 2019 Perth Fringe World festival. Landscape architecture, laughter, community: Urban Jungle

A recent comedy show at Perth’s Fringe World festival brought together built environment practitioners and members of the public alike for a series of light-hearted …

Twin rivers: the renaturalized Aire river in Switzerland runs alongside the existing canal, which has been transformed into a series of linear gardens. Framing process: Aire – the River and its Double

A recent book on the transformation of the Aire River in Switzerland by Swiss studio Superpositions offers layered perspectives on the river’s transformation.

At the Bahia Azul Garden in Chile, plants were selected for their suitability to the tough coastal soil and weather conditions A sublime elegance: Juan Grimm

Exploring a recent book on the work of Chilean landscape designer Juan Grimm.

The colonial garden at Cox’s Cottage, at Mulgoa, west of Sydney, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Thoughtful garden-making

A new book by Australian garden writer Christine Reid explores hardy gardens in some of the country’s most challenging landscapes.

Most read