It is always wonderful to see the Chelsea Flower Show gardens and this year is no exception. The garden designs are now scored on nine new categories, one of which is innovation, and new ideas here often inform future design trends. They are therefore awaited with eager anticipation the world over.
The Telegraph garden, above, shows the strong theme that weaves through many of the gardens this year – a mix of strong, evergreen structure with naturalistic, romantic planting. This is not a new idea, indeed Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) along with Sir Edwin Lutyens combined formal and informal design in the garden in a fashion that has been described as one of the most influential in history. Jekyll also paid close attention to colour combination, providing an artist’s eye to planting, as all the designs still do in 2014.
The other theme that has been commented on this year is the wide use of mature trees. I feel, however, that this is perhaps more an indication of the increasing budgets and cultivation skills each year, rather than any particular style trend.
The Laurent Perrier garden, above, won Best in Show. There is no doubt that it is truely beautiful, although I feel that I have seen similar planting combination and styles before. Its familiar look perhaps offers less excitement than others, despite the fact that the absolute creation is hard to fault on any level.
Matthew Keightley’s ‘Hope on the Horizon’ for Help the Heroes charity won the People’s Choice Award. I think I am probably one of the ‘people’! This garden shows the same clipped evergreen with loose planting interspersed that many of the others do but I feel it brought new thinking and very clever sculptural use. A combination of simplicity and immense visual interest is a rare sight and shows the great skill of this young, 29-year-old designer in a stunning design.
The winner of the Artisan Garden was Ishihara Kazuyuki with a traditional Japanese garden. It shows wonderful use of textures and innovative techniques.
There were a number of beautiful smaller gardens shown in the Artisan category.
The Brand Alley garden, by Paul Henrey-Brooks, takes the mix of formal and informal to extremes in a garden inspired by the Italian Renaissance period. Some parts are classical, straight hedges and other parts are very loose mixed plantings; clearly separated from each other in a way that works fantastically.
‘Extending Space’ by Daniel Auderset and Nicole Fischer is said to evoke the landscapes of the Pfyn National Forest Park in Switzerland. It is interesting to see the same theme of formal evergreen interwoven with informal plantings, despite its inspiration coming from abroad. The show certainly gives a clear steer as to what garden design fashion is all about in 2014.
Many thanks go out to Amanda Smith for the beautiful photography on this page