This year is the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Held every year at Chelsea Hospital on the third week in May, the flower show attracts the elite in gardening to compete for the much-coveted Gold Medal. This year an unprecedented number of golds were handed out to some spectacular gardens. So this week we are going to feature all of the Gold Medal winning gardens as a celebration of the show and also to highlight the importance of gardens to Architecture. It is our opinion that no building is finished until the landscaping has been completed. A garden complements a building and is an extension of that functional space.
Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings.
- Sponsored by Trailfinders, Fleming’s Nurseries, Victorian State Government, Phillip Johnson Landscapes.
- Designed by Phil Johnson (Phillip Johnson Landscapes).
- Built by Phillip Johnson Landscapes.
Winner of BEST IN SHOW and a Gold medal, this sustainable garden was designed by Philip Johnson to demonstrate a relaxing and inviting ecosystem within an Australian urban environment.
Johnson has been exhibiting at Chelsea for nine years, and this is their last year to enter. He always showcases the possibilities of sustainable landscaping, using native Australian plants. This year’s entry features a natural billabong and waterfalls, which is seamlessly integrated with a studio structure. The finished design took 17days and 2,500 man-hours to build.
An Alcove (Tokonoma) Garden.
- Sponsored by Sekisui Heim Tokai, HB－101, Art Grage, Jyutaro Home.
- Designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara.
- Built by Ishihara Kazauyuki Design Laboratory.
Winner of Best Artisan Garden and a Gold Medal this garden represents an alcove within a traditional Japanese tatami room, decorated with a hanging scroll and flowers to delight and enchant.
It is part of Japanese culture to speak with important people in such spaces, and this concept forms a key part of the garden; visitors can let their hearts speak out whilst enjoying the scenery and seasonal references in the design. This garden has been created in association with supporters Cats and Ishihara Kazuyaki Design Laboratory.
After the Fire.
- Sponsored by Scape Design in conjunction with Cancer Research UK.
- Designed by James Basson.
- Built by Peter Dowle.
This garden is the winner of Best Fresh Garden and a Gold Medal and is based on regeneration after forest fires that can devastate acres of woodland, particularly in the South of France. Over time, regeneration creates spectacular new growth within a stark burnt landscape.
The basic concept is a charcoal mulch at ground level, with vivid bright green plants (which always grow back first following a fire) creating a sharp contrast. Burnt tree trunks add to the effect.
A trodden pathway leads to some natural terracotta boulders that form seats. This garden makes a bold statement, showing nature’s incredible ability to regenerate and the beauty that exists in burnt-out landscapes.
The Arthritis Research UK Garden.
- Designed by Chris Beardshaw.
- Built by Keith Chapman Landscapes.
The Arthritis Research UK Garden is a Gold Medal Winner. The garden reflects the personal journey and emotions of someone with arthritis, from a lack of understanding and confusion following diagnosis to a point where they are informed about the disease and are able to manage their pain.
This journey is represented across three key areas. The shaded, woodland Veiled Garden features a contemporary retreat and sculpture and a stepping stone pathway that leads to the Lucid Garden. This open, formal area features a reflective pool with a focal sculpture and offers a sense of clarity.
In the slightly sunken Radiant Garden, exuberant, vibrant planting provides warmth, openness and confidence as the person with arthritis learns to manage their condition and keep active, doing the things they love.
The Brewin Dolphin Garden.
- Designed by Robert Myers.
- Built by Willerby Landscapes.
This Gold Medal winning garden is a calm, reflective, private space with a simple geometric layout.
Native planting, together with stone, timber and water, creates spaces for relaxation and informal entertainment. The design includes a strong composition of crisp forms and layered planes, combined with sculptural and textural planting drawn from a palette of British native species.
The design is inspired by sponsor Brewin Dolphin’s company ethos: bespoke and innovative, but firmly rooted in past traditions. The various spaces for entertaining and interaction reflect the importance placed on personal relationships and conviviality.
The Laurent-Perrier Garden.
- Designed by Ulf Nordfjell.
- Built by Crocus.co.uk
Uniting the classic style of French and English gardens, The Laurent-Perrier Garden is a contemporary take on a romantic garden.
The garden acknowledges the heritage of the family-owned Champagne House whilst incorporating a modern elegance. Shadowing themes of iconic French and Swedish gardens by Nicole de Vésian and Ulla Molin, Ulf Nordfjell has made use of simple materials such as stone, wood and metal, complemented by perennials in soft pinks and blues, as well as creamy oranges, yellows and whites.
A bronze Orpheus sculpture gives the garden an enigmatic atmosphere, whilst pergola arches on the terrace create a focal point above a rectangular pool. It is no wonder that this garden is a gold medal winner.
East Village Garden.
- Designed by Balston Agius Ltd (Michael Balston & Marie-Louise Agius).
- Built by Willerby Landscapes Ltd.
This Gold Medal winning garden picks up the ‘designed for living’ theme of the East Village, the Olympic legacy.
Referencing the local history of nurseries and horticulture, it sets strong architecture against a rich horticultural palette, including less commonly exhibited shrubs and herbaceous plants.
The Homebase Garden – ‘Sowing the seeds of change’ in association with Alzheimer’s Society.
- Designed by Adam Frost.
- Built by Landform Consultants Ltd.
The Homebase Garden – “Sowing the Seeds of Change” is another Gold Medal winner.
This modern family garden and has been designed to provide a small family with a space to enjoy an everyday connection with their food and nature. The garden provides a space where they can garden, relax and entertain whilst also providing a habitat to encourage wildlife.
The world has changed much since our parents’ time – the children of today don’t seem to have the same freedom that their parents once took for granted. The garden aims to provide an environment to help a younger generation understand the natural world. It is a sustainable space, providing a wildlife corridor and a place where people can garden and cook together.
- Designed by Kate Gould.
- Built by The Team Landscapers.
The Wasteland has been created on an unloved and unused piece of former industrial ground. This innovative garden won a Gold Medal through its reuse of materials.
Some of the waste from the site’s industrial past is re-used within the garden (including the storm drain, corrugated steel panels, old timber and crazy paving for flooring). Although old, these materials are given a new lease of life when re-worked into a modern garden that is designed for communal use.
The garden is part of a larger development, but this particular section offers a sense of privacy; there are spaces to sit and relax under the canopy of trees, enveloped by small shrubs and pretty perennials, with the sound of water gently burbling in the background.
The M&G Centenary Garden – ‘Windows through Time’.
- Designed by Roger Platts.
- Built by Roger Platts, NR Jupp.
Windows Through Time – a celebration of 100 years of Chelsea garden design. To mark the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Roger Platts is creating a garden for M&G Investments that captures the design trends and themes of Chelsea shows past and present.
Roger’s design draws on new and old garden features – from shrubs popular in the 1900s to modern plant cultivars – to show how the British approach to design has evolved over the decades, but with many recurring trends that have stood the test of time.
The classic British design of sandstone paths threading through beds of perennials and roses is complemented by nods to the past and the present. The garden highlights Roger’s flair for planting. Roger’s design was so successful, it is no wonder this enchanting garden won a Gold Medal.
RBC Blue Water Roof Garden.
- Designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett & The Landscape Agency.
- Built by Landform Consultants.
This is a Gold Medal winning urban rooftop garden that integrates recreational space with innovative biodiversity and habitat features. The garden explores the potential of ‘skyrise greening’ to bring trees, meadows and wetlands into the heart of the densest of cities.
The garden includes a full living roof that includes features for bees and birds. A central wetland area captures rainwater run-off and a winding boardwalk leads to a dramatic building clad in habitat panels. Low-tech living walls that require no irrigation enclose the garden. The rooftop infrastructure of cooling vents and air-conditioning units are transformed into sculptural habitat features, and the whole garden is filled with flower-rich planting.
The Telegraph Garden.
- Designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole.
- Built by Crocus.co.uk
This garden is a contemporary and contemplative composition that takes inspiration from the making of the English landscape, the Japanese approach to garden design and modern abstract art.
The garden is a representation of England as a wooded landscape from which openings were cleared to allow settlement, civilisation and cultivation.
English native trees and shrubs are used in a graphic way to create an understorey that expresses the way a field pattern has been superimposed on the countryside.
Blocks of box, yew and beech form the field landscape. The humble hazel, symbol of the working forest, is shown in a new ‘designed’ form. Oak features as a structure – a colonnade of columns crafted from English oak. All of these elements combine to create a Gold Medal winning garden.
To have 12 Gold Medal winner this year is a fantastic way to celebrate the centenary of this globally renowned exhibition. The calibre of creativity this year it a tribute to the competition and the skill of all those involved. The British have always been proud of their gardens, this year proves that this fact has only become more accurate over the years.
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