RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017
Do you like gardens? Art? Edible plants? …Social statements?
All the above? Well, dig up your old bucket list and add this to the top.
Chelsea is home to the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show – a stunning collection of individually designed gardens that resides in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. Organized by the Royal Horticultural Society, the Chelsea Flower Show has been produced every year since 1913, except for some gaps during the two world wars. The Great Pavilion of the Royal Hospital is roughly 11,775 square meters, and holds thousands of plants organized into eclectic and thought-provoking exhibits designed to induce diverse thinking, zen-like vibes, and simply awe among its beholders.
When you enter into the Pavilion, you enter into a lush world of unique floral lands. Take a walk through the ‘Feel Good Gardens’ where five mini-habitats await to tantalize your five senses. Meander through the ‘Show Gardens’ where designers show off their most enchanting and grandiose planterpieces. Entice your mind with the unconventional ‘Fresh Gardens’, ridden with provocative designs that highlight social issues. Whatever your flora fancy, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is sure to plant it.
Feel Good Gardens
The BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens were launched by BBC and RHS to indulge the viewer’s five senses: taste, smell, sight, touch, and sound.
Drool your way through every gardener's dream: the ‘Chris Evans Taste Garden’ designed by Jon Wheatley. Every plant featured was edible in some part, and Wheatley threw some fun in by planting the bright orange Dahlia Cheyenne, which was a tribute to Chris Evan's hair! A display so mouth-watering, it was hard not to pick the plants and throw it on your plate.
Upon leaving the Taste Garden, the alluring smells of the ‘Joe Wiley Scent Garden’ lured you in. Many of these scents were inspired to bring you back to a particular memory, or transport you to a moment in time or a place that feels familiar. Scents like woodland walks, rain on warm pavement, fresh earth and new leaf growth, and freshly cut flowers greeted you at the entrance and bid you farewell at departure. This delightful garden was designed by Tamara Bridge and Kate Savill, with assistance from fragrance designer Jo Malone.
Immediately after leaving the Scent Garden, the ‘Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden’ caught your eye. This striking mélange of zingy colors was designed by Sarah Raven to tease your eyes. An isolated seating area in the back of the garden allows you to view the floral medley while hidden behind diaphanous planting. C’est la vie!
Next up is the ‘Jeremy Vine Texture Garden’ designed by Matt Keightley. This garden is adorned with euphoric textures that are begging for your touch. Gallant, geometric tangibles are juxtaposed with a soft flora design. Round stone seats lay at the end of a polished back wall stimulating both your hand… and your bottom. Touch-é.
You may have found yourself at the ‘Zoe Ball Listening Garden’ designed by James Alexander-Sinclair next. It may be because the musical vibrations coming from underground tempted you in. Although the sound of music could not be heard, music from the past 50 years of BBC Radio 2 was sending up vibrations from down below to create a sensation throughout your entire body. When the bass played, the gravel and water in three long troughs danced and sang to the beat. I don’t know about you, but sometimes no music is music to my ears.
The Show Gardens were a collection of extravagant garden displays, each one surpassing the next.
Round the corner, and your eyes were immediately drawn to the ‘Silk Road Garden, Chengdu, China’ display, designed by Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins. You couldn’t miss the giant red palate spines jutting up from the ground, surrounded by beds of rhododendrons and peonies on one side, and foliage, shrubs and grass on the other. The spine was created to represent the mountainous landscape of the Sichuan Provence, and every plant has their origin or parentage in China.
Right next door you couldn’t miss the award winning ‘M & G Garden’ designed by James Basson. This abandoned Maltese Quarry inspired garden featured limestone architecture littered with grasses, evergreens, perennials and ground cover that are exclusive to the arid Mediterranean island. The message behind this simple yet powerful display was that humans must take action now to preserve the fragile environment of our planet. Amen, Mr. Basson.
This particular grouping of gardens was designed to provoke forward-thinking and bring attention to certain social issues.
One of the more telling gardens was ‘Mind Trap’ designed by Ian Price for the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health. This garden was designed to be a physical manifestation of one’s journey suffering from and dealing with depression. Its purpose was to reach out to viewers who are also suffering to remind them that they are not alone.
Across the way you probably noticed ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ Garden’s white and fuchsia triangles encasing an exotic palm tree. This design by Jack Dunckley was created to represent the social and economic variances in Bermuda and the Caribbean, along with the diverse topography and climate. The volcanic landscape was the inspiration behind this tropical geometric work of art, including an international palm tree that travelled over 1500 miles to get to Chelsea!
The Artisan Gardens encapsulated viewers on mini-plots of land.
The winner of the Gold Medal, the ‘Seedlip Garden’ designed by Dr. Catherine MacDonald was designed to resemble an abandoned outdoor apothecary surrounded by delicate field plants including lemon trees, truly embodying health and growth.
Inspired by Kyoto residence of Japanese emperors, the Gold Medal winner ‘Gosho No Niwa No Wall, No War’ garden was a sight to see. Bonsai trees and waterfalls flowing into a pool enveloped with moss and maple signified peace and communal gathering. Designed by Ishihara Kazuyuki.
If you missed out on this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, no need to fret, they repeat the show every year in May. You know where I'll be...
Start your day off with breakfast in the Murano room of the restaurant, and venture out to the illustrious shopping in Knightsbridge for the day.
Come back and enjoy afternoon tea in the drawing room, complete with finger sandwiches, and freshly baked scones and pastries.
Delight in the avant-garde design of the bar, with a seductive color palate of gold and charcoal. Sip on one of their 23 Whisky selections, or enjoy a simple ‘G-n-T’ on the Terrace. The Terrace and Conservatory offers an outdoor sanctuary for those wanting to escape the London gloom, but still craving relaxation in some fresh air.
After you enjoy your cocktail and conversation outside, join us for dinner at the restaurant. Delight in the Angus Beef Carpaccio, drool over the seared filet of seabass paired with fresh, savoy cabbage and bacon, and lick your fingers after sharing the Tarte Tatin complimented with William Pears and crisp, vanilla bean ice cream.
Nurse your food hangover in the Library, equipped with an extensive collection of historic antique books, some dating back to the mid-nineteenth century. Spoil your intellect with works by Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.
End your day by crawling into your sumptuous sheets and looking out your window at the dazzling city of Chelsea, London.
Hope to see you all in Chelsea next May!