ucked away behind the walls of the Royal Hospital Chelsea grounds, teams of designers, landscapers, joiners and plumbers have spent the past few weeks working round the clock to build some of the most impressive, forward-thinking and expensive examples of garden and planting design.
It is, of course, all for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a five-day horticultural phenomenon that sets national gardening trends for the year ahead.
Taking place next week from May 24 to 28, here are the garden designs and themes you won’t want to miss, whether you’re heading to the show or following the TV coverage.
Eight-time gold medal winner Andy Sturgeon is creating a garden for quiet reflection.
Large curved walls are set against open woodland of birch, hazel and hawthorn, providing alcoves for conversation. It is sponsored by the charity Mind and, when the show is over, it will find a new home at a Mind location that delivers eco-therapy.
The Mind Garden (Show Garden)
His first time designing at Chelsea, Jamie Butterworth has designed a school garden where children and adults can take a time out. Simple use of landscaping materials put the focus on the plants. It will be relocated to a primary school after the show.
The Place2Be Securing Tomorrow Garden (Sanctuary Garden)
Emotion laid bare
Picking up on the challenges of raising young children, Pollyanna Wilkinson has designed a garden that travels through the emotions of motherhood. Striking bronze walls represent the sanctuary or imprisonment caring for a baby can feel like, and planting begins restrained, before later flourishing.
The Mothers for Mothers Garden — ‘This Too Shall Pass’ (All About Plants Garden)
Reconnecting with nature
The role gardeners play in protecting and improving the environment for future generations is a theme that runs through many of this year’s gardens.
Juliet Sargeant has designed a Blue Peter Garden of the future, celebrating 100 years of the BBC.
Its focus is the importance of healthy soil and how to look after it. The garden contains an inside-out compost heap, a soil sound installation and a water feature highlighting soil erosion.
It will be relocated to RHS Bridgewater, Salford, for all to visit after the show.
The New Blue Peter Garden —Discover Soil (Show Garden)
A conceptual garden making its message clear, John Warland’s ice garden will melt as the show progresses. A giant ice cube takes centre stage as a reminder of the thawing permafrost and its embodied carbon, but also of the hope that may be found in lost species when the ice has melted.
The Plantsman’s Ice Garden (Sanctuary Garden)
For a second, be transported to the countryside of south-west England. Lulu Urqhart and Adam Hunt are pushing the boundaries of a Chelsea garden to capture a snapshot of an environment naturally rewilded by the reintroduction of the beaver. Using native plants in their natural state, the garden progresses from wetland past a beaver dam to drier upland species.
A Rewilding Britain Landscape (Show Garden)