The Chelsea Flower Show, for those of you outside the UK, is the highlight of the gardening calendar.

Designers from all over the world want their gardens to win a gold medal or better still ‘best in show’.

I won’t go though…

I will admit to having a bit of a love / hate relationship with it as there tends to be more ‘showmanship’ than practical things you can put in the average garden.

My misgivings aside here are a few of the gardens that have caused a storm at this year’s show.

Best in Show!

Unsurprisingly, this garden has caused a lot of controversy winning best in show. To my mind Chelsea is a bit of a garden fashion show – just like most clothes on a cat walk you wouldn’t actually want to wear, but the seeds of fashion ideas are there – you’ve just got to tone them down a bit!

So while this is not my cuppa tea, I think that a handful of stone blocks in amongst the natural style planting would work well… so don’t dismiss the idea completely!

Effective use of colour

I like how the colourful fins divide up the space and provide a solid backdrop for the lush green and purple planting.

Obviously a giant fin in the garden isn’t going to be for everyone one. Instead, think about painting a wall or fence panels some bright colours just like a feature wall in the home.

Traditional wins the day…

You can’t go far wrong with the tried and tested cottage garden style of planting that Chelsea has in abundance every year. If you combine the traditional look with the current fashion of the ‘just got out of bed’ look of somewhat messy and unruly planting – it can be surprisingly stunning.

One of my favourite planting schemes in the show was really there! The gorgeous planting behind this stand is a photograph – beautiful!

Check out the exhibits…

If you really want some usable ideas from the Chelsea Flower Show, I often find more inspiration in the trade stands and smaller gardens than the ‘show gardens’ – love the bright accent colours in this one!

There’s always one, if not several, these days…

There are more and more gardens at Chelsea that leave me scratching my head and wondering why?

Why try to recreate a natural beach scene, or a rock scree, or an old building overrun with wild plants, or some weird, funky assortment of random metal objects that look like they’ve come out of a scrap yard??

Just take a walk in nature – there’s plenty of that lying around! Perhaps Londoners don’t get the chance to see the things everyone who lives out of cities sees in abandoned scraps of countryside…

But anyway, it’s clearly just me who moans about such things as the crowds at Chelsea seem to grow every year (another reason I refuse to go these days!)…

Photo credits: The lovely Herry Lawford who braved this year’s show and took such great photos!

What does it take to create a beautiful garden?

Attend one of our FREE Fast Track Garden Design online classes and find out…

Register on this page:



Rachel Mathews
Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 30 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.