With the announcement of a new gardens section, show debuts and the return of familiar faces, the countdown to RHS Chelsea 2018 has begun.
Initial plans for RHS Chelsea 2018 have been unveiled and the Cotswolds will be there with gardens by leading designers Chris Beardshaw and Paul Hervey-Brookes.
Chris is celebrating 20 years of making show gardens with a design highlighting the work of children’s charity the NSPCCC, while Paul, who is marking 10 years of show garden design, returns as an exhibitor after a four-year break, although he’s been a judge at Chelsea in the intervening years.
The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC is the fourth show garden that Staverton-based Chris has made for the firm and aims to raise awareness of its current charity partner.
Based upon the idea of the emotional journey a child goes through when the charity helps them, the garden starts with a woodland where the path is unclear before moving on to a more open space filled with perennials and finally ending at a sheltering pavilion by a reflective pool.
“We want to raise awareness for the charity with a garden that is intrinsically a beautiful, healing and restorative space and which celebrates how a garden can make us feel,” explains Chris, who built his first show garden at the Malvern Show in 1998.
Among the plants he’s hoping to use are azaleas and rhododendrons along with specimen trees and perennials in a palate of purple, pink and blue.
As part of his research, Chris visited the NSPCC to find out more about its work, which includes running the children’s helpline Childline.
“It was extremely humbling to visit the NSPCC and to learn more about their incredibly challenging and broad ranging work with children.”
Paul, who also built his first show garden at Malvern, is exploring the link between mental wellbeing and the landscape in a garden for Viking Cruises in the Artisan section of RHS Chelsea 2018.
He’s taken his inspiration from a Norwegian spa, and a wooden sauna and a Brutalist-style concrete plunge pool are at the heart of the garden.
“The Norwegians are much more in tune with the landscape than we are,” says Paul, who is based in Stroud. “I’ve taken the Norwegian spa and the cycle of interaction between the water, the landscape and the mind as the wellbeing point.”
Wooden platforms will ‘float’ over rocks and planting with a semi-wild feel that will include many herbs; most of the plants are being grown by South Gloucestershire herb specialist Jekka McVicar.
Paul’s last appearance at RHS Chelsea as an exhibitor was on Main Avenue when he got a bronze medal for an Italian-inspired garden for BrandAlley.
Four years on, Paul says he has put that disappointment behind him: “I think I’m a very different person. Back then I felt that I had everything to prove and now I’ve been chairman of judging at Chelsea and I’m quite a few gold medals on, it’s much more about the idea and not about reception.”
It’s his second garden for Viking Cruises – he won gold at RHS Hampton Court last year with a travel-inspired garden just weeks after getting gold and Best in Show at Chatsworth with his Institute of Quarrying Garden, the biggest RHS show garden ever created.
Exhibiting in the Artisan Gardens rather than making a show garden was, he says, a deliberate choice.
“Most people don’t have large gardens. They want solutions for small spaces and Artisan fits that, it’s an average garden size. On a personal level, I haven’t really got anything to prove – I made one of the biggest gardens. It’s much more about what interests me.”
Other features at RHS Chelsea 2018 include Space to Grow gardens, a new section of smaller gardens with take home ideas that replaces the Fresh garden category, and the first ‘Chelsea Late’ with Ranelagh Gardens open from 8pm-10pm.
• The RHS will be unveiling more about the show in the New Year. Tickets are now on sale via the website.