Chelsea 2017: The Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden

Oh, Chelsea, Chelsea, you really shouldn’t be distracting me so. But you are, and I’ve admitted defeat. Chelsea it is.

Sarah Raven’s Colour Cutting Garden at Chelsea 2017

So in complete contrast – although geographically next door – to James’s quarry was Sarah Raven’s cutting garden. I’d read about it in advance and thought, ‘yes, yes, lovely flowers, it will be very pretty’ and moved on to read about the next one. Exactly as I preached against in my last post!

Ageratum and roses, foxgloves and allium all nestle in together around this natural-style obelisk

Lupins and Cosmos that were made to grow together

The reality though, was something else. The reality was that this was my favourite garden of all.

A cosy seating area amongst the flowers

Conceived of only in March this year (yes, two months ago!), Sarah’s garden was absolutely magnetic. She has an incredible eye for colour and form, but this garden went way beyond the planting. It was just impossible to believe that it hadn’t been there, in that exact spot, for at least the last fifty years. I was transfixed and kept finding myself heading back that way for just one more look (and another few hundred photos!).

Formal structure divides the garden with pots that anchor and provide height and mass

Oh, these violas were adorable!

The attention to detail in every square inch surpassed every other garden. Just look inside the battered old shed and you’ll see enormous numbers of little bud vases lining every shelf. Look at the little trinkets in the seating area, the watering can, the skinny brick wheelbarrow paths and the repurposed plant pots.

Ubiquitous Chelsea Salvia and geums, but with so much more imagination mixed with other forms and colours

Anneka Rice and Sarah Raven do a spot of deadheading

But perhaps most of it, it was an active garden. Sarah could be seen deadheading, watering and generally pottering about, going in and out of the shed in her gardening dress as if she were at home, entirely oblivious to the thousands of fascinated onlookers. The garden seemed to be full of people coming and going; celebrities, friends, you name it, everyone was welcomed in to have a wander and this gave the space life and authenticity.

It’s a great combination, even if it is ubiquitous!

The lupins were magnificent, giving strong vertical accents

I’d love to say it could be real; clearly thousands of plants had been stuffed together to peak at the same time in usual show garden fashion, but you warmed to it as though it were. There were no murmurings from the onlookers debating this, that or anything else, it was just simple joy and delight expressed by all. Sometimes you don’t want to have to think about gardens, you just want to be immersed in them and feel instinctive pleasure and this was certainly the garden for the job.

Soft, evening sun (and my attempt at ‘arty’!). What a gorgeous time in an English ‘country’ garden

I love the ‘clashing’ colours, which didn’t clash at all to my mind and I loved the moments of respite in calmer blues and greens. I loved the natural stakes and the feeling of letting the plants pretty much find their own way, spilling out as they wished over the grass. I loved the (totally impractical) Eucalyptus providing calming and beautiful structure to the beds and I adored the fact that the whole garden was unbelievably full of bees.

The plants wove a complex pattern, as though they had grow up through each other since germination

I think there was much to be said for these Senses Gardens being excluded from the judging too. There seemed to be a whole other air about them, not one of trying to forge a reputation but one of a much more laid back, fun, why-not? attitude. There was a sense of them being relaxed, comfortable and self-confident in themselves.

I loved this colour combination in Sarah’s garden

Aah, my Eucalyptus. It did make me smile and worked so well here (at least on a six-day basis!)

This garden was really about the simple pleasures in life…a cheery, delightful respite from more challenging world events.

More stunning colour combinations. It seemed wherever you stood and framed a photo, you’d end up with something great

Yet it was still another garden I learnt from. The glorious detail gave me so many ideas and the biggest revelation of all…that at heart, I’m just a brightly-coloured-flowers girl myself!

Please can I move in?

15 thoughts on “Chelsea 2017: The Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden

  1. Adriana Fraser says:

    Very pretty – would hate to have to maintain all those annuals but as a ‘fun’ garden it seems to work. Colour combinations – I love them. We could all be a bit more adventurous and not so concerned about that – let’s face it nature certainly isn’t. I can see why you loved this Janna – I too am a flower girl at heart.

    • jannaschreier says:

      You wouldn’t call this a low maintenance garden then, Adriana?! I guess the fact that there was a full time gardener on site during the show tells you something! We’ve had incredible (for an English May, that is) temperatures of 28 degrees today and I dread to think how those packed in roots are finding any water. But the colour combinations are magical. So much harder to do than it appears, but agree, if you don’t try and don’t take risks, you’ll never discover what works and doesn’t.

  2. germac4 says:

    Lovely, lovely garden! It inspires me to grow annuals, and the bonus is that they bring the bees and butterflies too. I’ve always thought soft young Eucalyptus leaves look lovely in vase full of colourful flowers, however, as you say, very impractical to have in a flower garden. The garden is inspiring…it is a joy to look at..

    • jannaschreier says:

      There were just so, so many bees. The garden was alive. Incredible for central London. I wonder where they all came from (and where they are going to go after Saturday)? I love young Eucalyptus leaves, too. I’m very lucky that my mum has an E. gunnii that she keeps pollarded so I always have a fresh supply for a vase. It’s lovely to have that connection with Australia in my flat.

  3. Louise says:

    Oh my …….. I will move in with you Janna! Love love love it! Could you have guessed? This is what I am trying to achieve in my very young garden. Gave me such joy to view all those lovely colour combinations. Flower girl I am indeed.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Excellent, it sounds a plan. Who else shall we invite?! I did guess you’d like this one, although you are always good at having an open mind and seeing ideas or beauty in a wide range of garden styles. I always remember your face when I suggested putting some natives in your front garden, but you bravely got on and tried it!

    • jannaschreier says:

      I think it was the attention to detail that really pulled this garden together for me. But I do always find that my female clients want flowers and my male clients, foliage; perhaps we have tendencies towards those stereotypes! I always think it’s SO good that we don’t all like the same thing though; our gardens would be so repetitive if we did. And of course, it’s never as simple as colour or no colour; there are always so many factors at play that influence us, consciously or subconsciously…the endless fascination of plants and gardens!

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