Jemima’s Favourite Gardens from the Chelsea Flower Show
John and I recently visited the Chelsea Flower Show, our favourite summer event. Gardens are so intrinsic to all our work, both refurbishment and new build, and we were lucky to be there on the first day when the medals were awarded.
This year, the Chelsea Flower Show’s themes were sustainability and the impacts of climate change.
Our first stop was Jilayne Richard’s CAMFED Garden, which represented the efforts of the charity (the Campaign for Female Education) in Zimbabwe. In the heart of the garden is a classroom, surrounded by Zimbwabwean crops in an authentic landscape of red soil and rocks.
There was a great feel to this garden, with its brightly painted steel drums full of crops, huge pumpkins and bright blue walls as a backdrop. The team who put it together were literally dancing with joy when their gold medal was awarded.
The CAMFED garden raises awareness of the need to educate young women in areas that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Women produce much of the food in Zimbabwe, and their agricultural practices need to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
Next was The Morgan Stanley Garden – designed by Chris Beardshaw – which was conceived to create a lush, herbaceous garden while minimising waste, from growing to construction.
The most striking aspect of this garden, however, was its colour scheme. Rather than being dominated by green like most gardens, the bushes and hedges here had tones of copper and bronze which contrasted against the white, blue and gold of the planting.
As the sun rose the metallic tones and contrasting colours were so vivid it was breathtaking, a bit like someone had given me chrome-effect sunglasses!
At the back, a bronze and dark wood structure perfectly complements the colours of the garden, in a wonderful example of harmony between architecture and garden design.
This 70s-inspired Greenfingers Garden by designer Kate Gould, this split-level garden was designed to be an accessible play area for children of all ages and abilities. A lift connects the two levels, ensuring everyone can enjoy the glass-clad terrace above.
The ceramic tiles offset the natural planting to give a very crisp architectural edge to the space.
Finally, my favourite garden, the naturalistic M&G Garden by the lovely Andy Sturgeon, who is such a deserved winner of Best in Show.
This woodland scene is carefully planted to appear as if the space had been reclaimed by the wild, with ancient species used to represent the enduring power of nature. Contrasting shapes and sizes of leaves gave the garden great depth.
Emerging from the thick greenery are sculptures made from burnt English oak, formed into the shape of rocks. Their rough texture absorbs any light that hits them to create total blackness which add dramatic shadows amongst all the bright and glossy leaves.
There is no better inspiration for garden design than the Chelsea Flower Show, and John and I left feeling creatively invigorated, buzzing with ideas for our future projects.
The show continues until May 25th, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to spend their time imagining their own dream home.