May 29, 2019 - POSTED BY Monique Halloran - Gardeners Choice

Chelsea Flower Show seldom lets you down and this year was no exception!  Interesting gardens with a theme of naturalistic planting and more informal landscaping was evident in many of the designs.  The first photo shows the ‘naturalistic’ theme of the show perfectly and it depicts Andy Sturgeon’s gold medal winning M and G Garden which won The Best in Show Award 2019.  The outstanding feature of this garden was the burnt oak timber retaining walls, which looked very like rock formations and indeed many people in the crowd were wondering ‘Is that real rock?’ The planting echoed this naturalistic foundation, and seemed less designed and more random than plantings of previous years’ gardens. I loved the play on leaf texture and shape which was given as much emphasis as the more usual emphasis on flower power.   

The second and third photos show Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley Garden which for me was the outright winner!  Chris Beardshaw is an experienced plantsman as well as an amazing designer, and his planting scheme featured more than 2,000 herbaceous perennials! He states his belief that mass planting can dramatically decrease the ability of weeds to flourish and if you plant in such a way as to stagger the seasons of growth of your plants, then they are more likely to become self-supporting.  Photo 3 shows a very large Pinus nigra Austriaca which is leaning heavily to one side and has a lovely natural timber support to keep it upright. The garden featured a simple water feature with a staggered path on both sides of it leading to an interesting bamboo relaxation area, which was elegant and contemporary. Simply beautiful!

Photo 4 depicts the stunning Anenome rivularis Glacier, with its large, saucer shaped white flowers that have pretty, deep blue anthers, and the backs of the flowers are tinged with blue.  A native of Himalaya, India and Ceylon, it flourishes in sun and semi shade.  In the Spring this Anenome will form a neat clump of green leaves and then from late Spring to the end of Summer it will sport these wonderful flowers on tallish stems of up to 60 cm.  Photo 5 shows Clematis Crystal Fountain whose flowers are equally stunning with a fountain like centre of silvery blue petaloid stamens that are quite arresting.  This clematis will grow to 1.8 metres and will often give you two seasons of flowering interest.  Late Spring to early Summer and Late Summer to early Autumn.  

David Harber’s sculptures have long been a favourite of mine.  His designs are always unique and so inspirational. The Savills Garden created a woodland setting with lots of pretty woodland perennials and the theme of the garden was sustainability.  The garden itself has been endorsed by The Environmental Change Institute.  In amongst this woodland wonderland is a wetland area, with a 3.5 metre high bronze shard rising out of still pool of water.  This curved bronze shard is reflected in the pool of water, making it even more impressive, and its raised ridges make a play of the sun and the shade.  Photo 7 is also all about sustainability, but has a more punchy, tongue in cheek approach to bring the need for sustainability to our attention.  The Floella’s Future Garden highlights the concerns about micro-plastics in our environment in no uncertain way, as featured in the garden greenhouse seen here in the photo, which is made from recycled plastic bottles!  Perhaps not my favourite garden to look at, but it certainly makes a point.

Photo 8 shows the winner of the Plant of the Year 2019 award - the Sedum Takesimense Atlantis and Photo 9 shows the plant that was awarded 3rd place - the Agapanthus Fireworks, which to me was by far the loveliest! Sedum Atlantis has serrated leaves that are attractively variegated and it has small sprays of yellow flowers from June to September.  It is a stonecrop and only grows to 30cm high, and I think it would form a lovely Sedum green roof on top of a bin store or shed.  The Agapanthus Fireworks, which was my favourite plant, has large globes of flaring white petals stemming out of a beautiful blue base.  It has evergreen foliage which is resistant to temperatures up to -10 degrees C, so better than most Agapanthus, and flowers that bloom all summer long, till September at least.  This and the fact that it does well in both sun and semi shade would make this plant a very useful addition to any flowering border. As always the Chelsea Flower Show inspires new ideas and introduces us to beautiful new plants!