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Chelsea Flower Show: a garden designer’s perspective

Georgina Chahed is a garden designer and the owner of Touch Landscapes. This week she reviews the artisan and fresh gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show…

Attracting 165,000 visitors each year, the Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious horticultural show in the world and the height of gardening fashion. The grand gardens on Main Avenue may grab most of the headlines, but it’s the plots in the artisan and fresh categories which offer visitors a unique insight into traditional skills and cutting-edge materials.

Artisan Gardens

Designer Ishihara Kazuyuki’s gardens are always a crowd pleaser at Chelsea and this year’s gold award winning Edo Garden is no exception. Reflecting the Edo period in Japan, the garden is designed to be inclusive to all people, regardless of their class or wealth. Rolling moss balls, lacy leaved acers and a bonsai tree transport you to a lush rural wonderland. The quiet trickle of a meandering stream leads your eye through the space and the green roof on the summerhouse brings this artisan garden right up-to-date.

edo garden

Equally charming, Serena Fremantle and Tina Vallis’s gold award winning Trugmaker’s Garden celebrates the dying artisan craftsmanship of Sussex trugmakers. Interwoven with important messages about energy and the environment, this rustic garden centres on a wooden shed seemingly located deep in the heart of a forest. Vibrant orange geums, scarlet poppies and deep red plume thistles add softness to the design, inviting you to explore this enchanting space.

trugmakers garden

Fresh Gardens

Fernando Gonzalez’s otherworldly space entitled The Pure Land Foundation Garden has picked up a silver gilt medal in the fresh category. A rippling white structure made of Jesmonite captures the dramatic topography of the Chinese landscape and is inspired by nature’s natural rhythms. Providing the perfect foil for his stunning dry planting scheme of rusty irises and geums, Fernando’s garden reminds me of artist César Manrique’s iconic futuristic lava garden in Lanzarote.

pure land foundation garden

Finally, the marmite of the show that has been dividing opinion is the silver gilt medal winning World Vision Garden by John Warland. Communicating the plight of Cambodian children, translucent acrylic orange rods represent rice paddy fields, with dark water illustrating the children’s fear of hunger. Mirrored boxes containing cacti reflect the light and irises and water violets represent delicate flowers thriving under the right conditions.

world vision garden

If you’re planning to head to Chelsea, do put a few hours aside to explore the artisan and fresh gardens. Offering a diverse range of styles, these imaginative pocket-sized gardens are certain to inspire you.

Full credit for all photos belongs to Georgina Chahed, Touch Landscapes.

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