Have you been watching the coverage of the world’s greatest gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show in London? What do you think of the gardens this year?
I hate to admit it, but I’m really not enjoying the gardens. In fact, if I’m really honest, I haven’t for a few years now…
After watching the garden coverage on TV, I think I’ve turned into a ‘grumpy old woman’ (though that might be the result of a recent significant-ish birthday). If my grumpiness isn’t a result of the ‘0’, then is it because we are getting the same old gardens repackaged at Chelsea each year, but with slightly different gimmicks?
The Chelsea Flower Show used to be the highlight of my year. I’d go down to London, full of excitement, with an armful of cameras and film, fight my way through the crowds and walk round in awe at the amazing and inspiring gardens. Now I’m sitting in front of the TV, yawning or muttering, “They did that garden three years ago. That one is a re-hash of so and so’s garden and why on earth did they do that!”
What’s the problem?
Is it age that’s making me fed up with all the gimmicks and metaphors that designers seem to be spouting on about, or have the gardens lost their true essence these days? Has anyone designed a Chelsea garden this year for no other reason than to create a stunning garden to inspire people?
I feel when designers are focusing too much on the concepts and trying to add things they wouldn’t normally, for the sake of their theme, the gardens lose something as a result.
Bad design examples
What’s really making me grumpy is seeing gardens that don’t flow and work as a garden that well. I’m seeing designs that are nothing more than a series of unrelated features. They don’t utilise the space well. Some shapes even make the garden look narrow and awkward. And don’t get me started on the practicalities of actually mowing those odd shaped lawns!
Now, in fairness, I haven’t yet seen all of the main gardens on TV yet, so I am really hoping that there will be a garden that’s well designed, so I can say “Wow, I want to design a garden like that!”
I know how incredibly hard everyone involved with the show works. It’s no mean feat getting a garden built to the high specifications, deadlines and pressure that goes with the world’s greatest garden show. I just want to see less gimmicks and metaphors (when did a garden EVER need a metaphor) and more inspiring design.
I want REAL gardens.
Perhaps then, Chelsea isn’t the place for that. It is a show after all.
A quest to find the greatest gardens on Earth (well Europe at least…)
Just as well I’m about to set off on the Great Garden Tour of Europe (in a campervan, no less!).
For the next few months I’m going to be visiting inspiring gardens and filming, writing and generally dissecting what makes them so great, so that you can re-create elements of their greatness in your own garden.
There will not be gimmicks. There will be great design and great ideas for you.
I have a few gardens on my visit hit list via the book ’1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die’ – now there’s a book title and a half. BUT, I want to see gardens that people have designed themselves as well as designers and landscape architects’ work. The types of gardens that you can’t normally get in to see.
Do you know of a garden that you think I should visit? If so, please get in touch in the comments below or through the form on the contact page.
What do you think about this year’s Chelsea Flower Show?
Hopefully, it is just me that’s feeling jaded with the Chelsea this year. I hope that other people are feeling inspired. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below…