Made in Chelsea

As the RHS Chelsea Flower Show draws to a close each year, garden lovers can reflect on the show’s main theme. The answer these days is that usually there isn’t just one main theme. Instead, Chelsea continues to be an eclectic, sumptuous and sometimes eccentric window on world gardening, ranging effortlessly from herbaceous borders to fynbos, from exotic Barbados to traditional Japan.

George Plumptre rounds up his six favourite themes at this year’s showcase.

Trend 1: Natural Landscapes

Celebrating natural landscapes and plants’ ability to regenerate in the toughest of conditions were taken to the extreme in the replication of a Maltese quarry.

The M&G Garden, Designed by James Basson


The Royal Bank of Canada Garden, Designed by Charlotte Harris


Trend 2: New Plant Choices

Plants from arid and drought-challenged areas such as the Western Cape, California and Mexico made a dazzling showcase of what can be achieved living in water-threatened conditions.

‘Inland Homes: Beneath a Mexican Sky’, Designed by Manoj Malde


South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch


Trend 3: Urban Gardening

For many people, gardens in cities are the most important contemporary story. Indoor plants, bold shapes and greening our immediate living space were at the forefront this year.

‘The quarry is not supposed to be pretty. It is stark and monumentally brutal’ – James Basson, Best in Show

‘City Living’, Designed by Kate Gould


Trend 4: Garden Geometries

The adventurous balance of planting and decorative hard landscape features played on geometric shapes and pattern to give seasonal permanence.

‘Breaking Ground’, Designed by Andrew
Wilson and Gavin McWilliams


Trend 5: Tradition Remix

Pretty, traditional planting combinations and topiary shapes of yesteryear were reinterpreted with a focus on soft mounded forms and loosely planted perennials.

The Morgan Stanley Garden, Designed by Chris Beardshaw


The Silk Road Garden, Cheng Du, China, Designed by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins


Trend 6: Well-matched Neighbours

In contrast to years gone by, it was the combination of perennials and the natural associations between different plants, rather than individual specimens, that was one of the best features of this year’s show.

Featured image Japanese designer Kazuyuki Ishihara’s ‘No Wall, No War’ garden, a gold medal winner at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, comprised a hut with transparent walls and floors that rise from the water on stilts over a garden of impeccable harmony.

Photography Marianne Majerus