The RHS has been working for some time to promote the healing benefits of gardens and gardening and to that end Matt Keightley has designed the RHS Feel Good garden – a gorgeous billowy mix of grasses including Stipa tenuissima and deschampsia along with these stunning black irises (a more diminutive black Iris chrysographes – also appeared on Tom Stuart Smith’s garden). The best piece of news from Keightley was that messy gardens are much better for our mental health than neat, formal spaces. After the show the garden is being relocated to Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust.
We are always on the lookout for more roses – David Austin’s introductions this year were standout – the incredibly scented Emily Bronte and the pretty single yellow Tottering By Gently. But it was this rambler, Dentelle de Malines, that caught our eye. How pretty would this look scrambling over a garden fence?
Main Avenue first timer Tom Massey didn’t disappoint with a beautiful, innovative garden for the Lemon Tree Trust – a charity that supports gardening and growing in refugee camps. Massey travelled to the Domiz camp in Iraq and incorporated some of the inventive ideas that have been born from the challenging conditions and the makeshift gardening that has evolved there. While one side of the garden had beautiful perennials planted into gravel the opposite side of the garden had a wall of concrete breeze blocks and steel guttering that had been repurposed as planters.
Lupins seem to be everywhere at this year’s flower show but we noticed more of the rich blue West Country lupin – Persian Slipper – than any other variety. Its velvety blue spires fill Nic Howard’s garden for David Harber and Savill’s. They also look beautiful mixed in with lilac and pink, as seen here on Janine Crimmins’ A Very English Garden.
Chelsea isn’t just about planting – Blue Forest’s towering playhouse has been creating a stir on Main Avenue with its amazing tunnel slide. Who wouldn’t want this in their garden?
Sarah Price’s M&G Garden was beguiling from all angles with its rusty earth walls and exquisite planting. We spotted so many plants to covet but one of our favourites was the Euphorbia rigida which has a dome of spiky foliage and the prettiest rose pink flowers.
In the Floral Marquee there are some extraordinary stands this year but none more swoonsome than Ashwood Nurseries monoculture of hellebores. It’s an incredible feat that these winter flowers are even in flower in late May – let alone looking so fabulous. The Nurseries’ latest addition is the Evolution series of plants – some of these gorgeous new hellebores may not be available commercially until 2020 but these beauties are worth the wait.
There was a big push for yellow at this year’s Show – and it’s a notoriously hard sell with many of us immune to the charms of zingy yellow flowers. But Hay-Joung Hwang’s extremely relaxing LG Eco-City garden made a strong case for the colour with yellow lupins mixed with copper verbascums, orange geums and white foxgloves.
Hwang softened the feet of the trees in her garden with ferns and delicious mossy domes. But, as usual, the master of moss at Chelsea was Kazuyuki Ishihara whose Japanese Hospitality Garden was a sensory overload of gushing water, immaculate planting and rivers of plush, velvety moss domes.
Our plant lust list from Chelsea is pretty much endless but we will leave you with this luscious beauty – Papaver ‘Cloud Peony Black.’ She’s totally dreamy.