Events are sometimes like buses. You sit around for ages and then a couple of them roll along at exactly the same time, both vying for your attention.
And so it is with this week. We have the spectacle that is the Royal Horticultural Societies Chelsea Flower Show, the completely separate and brand new Chelsea Fringe Festival and the Clerkenwell Design Week. Quite different, yet all right up their on our own studio radar. Inspiration spilling from the gills of each.
So, this week we will be posting a small series of posts looking at some of the highlights of all of the shows – our mini pick if you like.
Heading up today is the reveal of the large show gardens down Main Avenue at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
These beasts are pretty large, constructed with pretty generous budgets and have had sometimes years of hard toil spent on them. The 21 day build is literally the tip of the iceberg with these behemoths. But one thing they all are, is spectacular. Love them or hate them – appreciate them for what they are – show gardens.
There are a few which caught our eye this year for a few reasons…
The Brewin Dolphin Garden has been designed by Cleve West and, as expected, is full of formal textures and materials given a contemporary twist. The formality of the topiary in the space is beautifully offset with soft planting on the lower levels and is a stunning example of how to use solidly structured vegetation in any sized space. Rills are a bit of a theme this year in many gardens and Cleve’s has a lovely stone rill – again a nod to the traditional but with a modern connotation.
The Laurent Perrier garden always screams of slick sophistication, and this year is no exception. This year the space has been designed by Arne Maynard and is a wonderful example of textural planting. Just like Cleve’s, there is a clear juxtaposition between the formal elements of the trees, hedge and topiary and the deep ornamental beds which flank a textured path.
Television presenter and designer Joe Swift has been ribbed repeatedly by his fellow Chelsea presenters over past years to build his own garden at the show and finally he has taken the plunge with his space for Homebase and the Teenage Cancer Trust. The garden features large cedar clad frames which divide the space into clear areas, increasing interest by interrupting the visual field. This is a great device for all gardens, however small, as you anticipate what is going to come next as you journey. A very nice example of something to steal for your own space.
Something most of us would be hard pushed to recreate, but yet is very interesting as a concept is the Westland Magical Garden from Diarmuid Gavin. As expected, this garden does not follow the pattern of other show gardens (the similarities can be seen from our three examples above) but pushes the boundaries of what we can call landscaping design. Like his flying eye design of last year, verticality is key in Gavin’s garden, which is centered around a black and gold scaffolding pyramid which towers over Main Avenue and has views across the river over a series of ‘room’ levels.
Chelsea is all about show stoppers and for us, there is an interesting mix this year of the beautifully planted (without being a pastiche or twee representations of history) and the interesting concepts. Gavin’s pyramid may be rather different, but there are many elements which are very relevant to city living – limited space and vertical growing.
Tickets are now sold out for Chelsea 2012, but get onto the iPlayer, as the BBC are doing an excellent job showing the highlights.
(images via the RHS)