Chelsea Flower Show: A Preview


Preview day is a special treat--a chance to take an early look at the Chelsea Flower Show gardens whilst their designers are working frantically to finish them. There is such a hum of excitement, nerves and friendliness in the air in the midst of hundreds of pots of plants, tractors and mud. The themes this year seem to be very calm and restful gardens with muted colours, lots of green, cream flowers and water features.

Living walls of plants were featured in three small gardens. Vertical planting is a good way of increasing the areas for greenery upwards instead of impinging on limited ground space. It also provides a nice screen, often necessary in urban spaces. Green Living (pictured) has walls and the roof planted with a mixture of flowers, herbs (sage, thyme) and ferns. Inspired by Patrick Blanc, this one is small enough for an ordinary mortal to replicate at home. It is surrounded by water, and will have hand-made mosaics on the walls with pictures of the plants in the garden.

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Another vertical garden, this one japanese, and extraordinary. As seen in the picture, the magical little house and an adjacent shoulder-level wall are covered with moss. Inserted between the moss, into the chicken wire, are ferns, and small heuchera and japanese maples. There is a history of vertical planting in Japan--it works well there because it is hot and humid so things grow well. There are trenches and eaves troughs to recycle the water ("raindrops" as the designer called them) throughout the garden.

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A picture of serenity:a floating slate path and water lilies across a garden that is almost all water.

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The Pemberton Greenish Recess Garden is a small enclosed sanctuary that is very environmental. The water is all recycled through the waterfall and into an irrigation system. The waterfall steps are made of 100% recycled glass from a recycling centre. The wood ends, used very effectively as a wall (right side of photo), are the reject timber ends. There are LED lights all over to create a night atmosphere.

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This simple urban front yard garden incorporates a parking spot for the scooter or electric car, porous ground covering to reduce rainwater run-off and an ingenious recycling bin cupboard. Since they are such a visual blight, the designer has created a neat closet--with doors on the right to pop in the rubbish and an open space behind the wall on the left to wheel out the bins on recycling days.

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The Australians are working frantically to finish their lavish, over the top, "beach", complete with curving wall made from 3500 individual pieces of sandstone.

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George Harrison, a dedicated gardener, is here, courtesy of his wife. Apparently Ringo will be driving George's red Mini into the garden on opening day--that's show business, garden style. :: RHS Chelsea Flower Show

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