The excitement of Chelsea Flower Show may have died down, but here at Plant Designs, we’re still reeling from all the beautiful botanicals we spied during our visit. We piled into the show for it’s Thursday proceedings and here’s the highlights from the Plant Designs team.
Of course, with a band of horticulturalists in toe, the Grand Pavilion was bound to prove popular and we took great delight in seeing the best of what growers have produced. Most notable was, Orchideen Garten, a small yet plentiful Orchid stand displaying varieties both unusual and graceful. Orchids are something we work with daily, while the more common types never lose their intrigue it was an absolute treat to see the lesser familiar types. Also proving popular with pretty much all our team was the carnivorous plants. Dotted around the tent from different growers; these mostly tube-like structures looked delicate enough to belie their carnivorous nature. A favourite stand of Marketing Manager Helen was Wacks Wicked Plants stand with the grower’s family portrait hanging behind the plants – the portrait included one of their beloved plants – they’re just our type of people. Another poignant stand in this area was the stand from the South African National Biodiversity Institute. Some of our team commented on parts of the display that looked burned, however for FAB team member Margarita, it brought back memories of her time in South African at the start of the year. The burnt wood and new growth were reminescint of the aftermath of the fire that raged in Knysna: an area famous for it's botanical diversity and could now more than twenty years to grow back.
Over in gardens, we continued to feast on concept rich designs and purposeful planting.
The David Harber and Savills Garden was a winner for Katy, Fab Manager, and her team agreed with her. The focal point for the garden was its arresting sculpture, Aeon, framed by rusting wormholes. There wass a nod to our presence in this universe with a Verdigris bench inspired by human DNA. The sculptures and planting interacted to tell a story in theatrical way. The density of plants ebbed and flowed while you moved through the space. Key plants included golden grass Stipa gigantea, purple-flowered bearded iris, caper spurge (Euphorbia lathyrus), vibrant pink Dianthus carthusianorum, Thalictrum, salvias, lupins and a bold row of impressive large-leaved Hosta 'Sum and Substance'. This garden achieved stunning plant arrangements as well as encouraged us to self-reflect as a result of our encounter with it.
The David Harber and Savills Garden was a Bronze Medal Winner.
The Pearlfisher Garden, set out to highlight the irrevocable impact of plastic waste in our oceans. It housed water-filled cylinders that became home to more than 300 cultured fish while the sun shone through a glass ceiling to evoke an underwater feeling and create the impression of being in a marine environment. Even more magnificent was the planting of cacti and succulents to mimic the coral and sea plants you would expect to see on the ocean floor. A quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest featured on the sheet steel, designed to disintegrate and therfore mirror the loss of beauty if we don’t look after our oceans. The garden was completed with a three-dimensional pearl diver about to break through the surface of the water. This was a garden that came recommended by our Environmental Manager Sinead who is currently travelling around Malaysia.
The Pearlfisher Garden was a Gold Medal Winner.
Bringing a sense of calm to our day was O-mo-te-na-shi no NIWA -The Hospitality Garden. Inspired by the treasured Japanese culture of ‘omotenashi’, the concept of wholehearted and sincere hospitality. The planting was based on Ikenobo, a type of Japanese flower arranging dating from the 15th century, with the placement of plants and distribution of colour carefully considered in relation to the space. Two bonsai flanked the garden's entrance, leading to the key feature of the garden, an octagonal garden house covered by roof material made of copper. A central pond surrounded by Japanese maples became the place your attention rested as the natural sound of water falling onto rock soothed us into a restful relaxation.
O-mo-te-na-shi no NIWA was a Gold Medal Winner and named Best Artisan Garden.
There was a standout highlight of our day, a garden that made an impression on all of our team, in particular William and Ellie, was The Supershoes, Laced With Hope Garden, in partnership with Frosts. It told the touching story of a child’s journey following a diagnosis of cancer, and the work the charity Supershoes does to empower that child throughout their fight. Central to the garden and its concept were a small pair of hand-painted trainers on its curved bench, placed to portray how young some children can be when they are diagnosed. The back drop for the bench was a bright, vibrant painted wall and colourful planting, chosen as children are drawn to colour and intended to lift their spirits. A sculpture of a young child took place at the far side of the garden, holding a large gold lace which extended up, over and through the plants, binding all the garden’s elements together. The colour gold represented childhood cancer, while the planting included mixed perennials and roses, all intending to provide a psychological boost for those dealing with the stress of cancer diagnosis.
The Supershoes, Laced With Hope Garden was a Silver Medal Winner.
For full details about this year’s show, visit their website. Proceeds from all ticket sales support the charitable work of the RHS.