RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 : My Favourite Gardens


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As mentioned in my previous post, I think this years Chelsea Flower Show has been the most inspiring for several years, with so much fresh talent being recognised for their work. One garden that leapt out at me within the first days coverage was Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden, designed by Harry and David Rich and built by their company Rich Landscapes. They won gold last year, and I remember thinking they will be ones to watch, but to me, this years garden tops it despite actually winning silver gilt.

The garden is inspired by Brecon Beacons National Park dark sky status , one of only five international reserves in the world. A star-shaped cobblestone path is one of the features bringing the constellation theme, with the garden filled with steel, glass, natural stone, timber and gorgeous naturalistic planting. It is designed to be a sensory garden, with the idea that when in darkness it remains as effective as in light. It's of course a great platform to raise awareness about light pollution, but is also based on a sensory garden they recently designed for autistic children.

"It offers a naturalistic, calm environment where children can learn about both the landscape around them and the wonders of the night sky"

Installed are two steel edges reflective pools which suggest black holes, and boulders are used to mirror fallen meteors and brass disks and sculptures contrast with the dark backdrop, depicting constellations but also hint at the mystic and astrological. Naturalistic planting, white with swirls of blue and orange echo the path of the Milky Way and the roof of the studio offers different spots for star gazing, with a spiral staircase to lead you to view the night sky through the open canopy of the trees. I think it's magical, my favourite of the year, and I will always keep an eye on the Rich's! 

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Designed by Marylyn Abbott, who is acknowledged as one of the finest garden creators in the world, is The Topiarist's Garden, built by Alyson Hamilton Garden Design and Michael D Chewter Landscapes.

Based on an original concept by Abbott for a garden in front of the crumbling remains of the bothy at West Green House in Hampshire, it's incorporates all we hold dear of English cottage gardens. The garden was designed as a personal space for a conventional gardener, influenced by the tradition of 'Topia Opera' two of Marylyn's favourite things! In this space, he could have indulged his passion for eclectic topiary that his more traditional employers wouldn't of allowed him to explore. Favourite bulbs and annuals flower in sunken chequerboards of pots, with neat box hedges surrounding them. Tall foxgloves add a fairytale element, contrasting to the tall strong topiary forms. It's an approachable garden, very comfortable English styling that we could all aspire to achieve. Marylyn seems like such a passionate gardener, who adores English gardens despite being more used to Australian sunshine, and I really enjoyed her interview on the BBC.

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Finally, this stunning garden is a wonderful response my local pottery. The Dialaflight Potter's Garden designed by Nature Redesigned and built by Frogheath Landscapes is inspired by the true story of the Farnham Potters who swapped their tools for guns and the battlefields of WW1, and survived. 
This is the potters garden, left abandoned but brought back to life for 2014. This designed remembers lost rural crafts ways and skills, but also celebrates the power of gardens to evolve and renew. Inspired by the WW1 centenary and the restoration of The Farnham Pottery at Wrecclesham, the features include a traditional bottle-style kiln and a functioning workshop set within loose and wild cottage style planting. 
My favourite features of the garden are the props, clay left drying on the wheel, and most prominently, and the broken pottery path that leads a trail to the workshop. You can just imagine the potter throwing the seconds over his shoulder, then walking over the broken pieces every day until they formed this path. His spirit remains at this workshop, that is a powerful footprint to depict. The wild areas reclaiming the workshop are just as thought provoking as the planting in No Man's Land or Hope For Heroes garden, so many workshops must have remained just as trapped in time, just waiting to be used once more.

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That will be my last Chelsea post, honestly! I really wanted to keep these gardens in mind as inspiration this year, I hope you've enjoyed seeing them too! What were your favourite highlights this year?

All photographs courtesy of the RHS Website.

Hope it's a great Bank Holiday!

Katie

2 comments :

Gillian said...

Gorgeous photos. I haven't seen much of the tv coverage but I've enjoyed seeing blog posts like yours and reading all about it. I really love that topiary garden, it's stunning. Very inspirational stuff. x

Candy Pop said...

Oh my goodness, it looks wonderful! I really wanted to go this year, but couldn't get any time off work. Maybe next year...