RHS announces seven Chelsea Flower Show show gardens

The RHS has revealed the designers and sponsors behind seven 2017 show gardens, as sponsor nervousness over Brexit leads to delays on the final line-up.

RBC garden
RBC garden

The show usually has around 15 show gardens but sponsorship difficulties are believed to have led to just seven being announced so far.

James Basson is aiming for his third consecutive RHS gold medal with ‘The M&G Garden 2017’ for the show’s headline sponsor. Inspired by the majestic quarries of Malta, Basson will demonstrate the rich diversity of Maltese flora and the beauty of this harsh environment. His design was originally for the Daily Telegraph, which subsequently pulled out of the show.

The Royal Bank of Canada Garden’ by debut designer Charlotte Harris is inspired by the Boreal forests and freshwater lakes of Canada. The garden will feature pines, larches and birch. Harris has chosen an all-female team in the hope it may inspire more women to consider a career in garden design.

Design duo Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliams with ‘Breaking Ground’ celebrate the work of Wellington College, and will re-create the endangered heathland in Berkshire where the college is situated. This natural habitat has declined by 97 per cent since 1800.


‘500 Years of Covent Garden supported by Capco’ by Lee Bestall celebrates this area of London through its transformation from Westminster Abbey’s orchard garden in 1201, to the bustling marketplace we know today. Planting will depict its rich floral heritage, while arches represent the distinctive Market Building.


Other show gardens announced include the ‘Musen Landscape SEEK Garden’ by newcomer Jin Yang.

Darren Hawkes’s ‘Linklaters Garden for Maggie’s, and ‘The Morgan Stanley Garden’ by 11-time RHS Gold medal-winning designer Chris Beardshaw. Several designers have been accepted by the RHS but have had sponsors pull out.

Fresh Gardens are from Kate Gould, whose ‘City Living’ is a three-tiered space with plants suited to different environments, from hardy, shade-tolerant tropical plants in the basement, to a more Mediterranean planting scheme on the upper levels.

‘Breast Cancer Now: Through the Microscope’ by Ruth Willmott highlights the work of the charity’s scientists and their goal to stop breast cancer taking more lives. Magenta and vivid pinks will be blended with coppery tones and white highlights.

‘Inland Homes: Beneath a Mexican Sky’ by Manoj Malde is inspired by Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Colour-washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic backdrops to the planting scheme, which will feature multistem trees and drought-tolerant herbaceous planting.

‘Mind Trap’ by Ian Price for the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health is a physical manifestation of the designer’s own experience of depression and will feature a dark pool and withered plants contrasting with vibrant, healthy ones.

Artisan Gardens announced are from winner of 13 RHS Gold medals, Sarah Eberle, who is following the Mediterranean theme with the ‘Viking Cruises Garden of Inspiration’ which will feature date palms, citrus and succulents, and is based on the distinctive work of architect Antoni Gaudí, best known for the unfinished Sagrada Familia that dominates the Barcelona skyline.

Ishihara Kazuyuki’s ‘The Gosho No Niwa’ was inspired by the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the former residence of the Emperor of Japan. The garden, which features pines, maples and moss, is intended to create a sense of peace and communal spirit and marks Ishihara’s 12th year at the Show.

‘The Seedlip Garden’ by Dr Catherine MacDonald, who returns for her second solo year, is a conceptual garden inspired by the story of Seedlip, the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits company. It is a celebration of alchemy and marries 17th-century apothecary with the modern laboratory, featuring old-fashioned copper pipework and a planting palette influenced by plants listed in the influential 1651 book The Art of Distillation.

Following last year’s ‘Best in Show’, Gary Breeze’s ‘The IBTC Lowestoft Broadland Boatbuilder’s Garden’ will feature the replica of an 800-year-old beautifully crafted oak boat which was found on the Norfolk broads. The garden, a marshland environment, will also feature peas, garlic, kale and chives.

Additional Artisan creations include the ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Centenary Garden’ by David Domoney, ‘Hagakure – Hidden Leaves’ by Shuko Noda, and newcomer Fiona Cadwallader’s ‘The Poetry Lover’s Garden’. Graham Bodle returns with the ‘Walker’s Wharf Garden’, and design duo Adam Woolcott and Jonathan Smith create a garden for World Horse Welfare.

In the Great Pavilion Burncoose Nurseries wants to shine a light on the lesser-known plants pollinated by flies, moths and beetles, while Raymond Evison has created a contemporary design inspired by the seashore. It features sand, pebbles and five large waves running the length of the exhibit, each of which will have Clematis arranged on and below them.

Birmingham City Council brings the whimsical and wonderful world of Rowland Emett to life with a floral re-creation of ‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’, the last-known machine made by the cartoonist and inventor in 1983.

Multi-designing expert Sarah Eberle returns with Hillier Nurseries as it aims to continue its RHS Chelsea legacy and secure the firm’s 72nd consecutive Gold medal. She will also be assisted by 2016’s RHS Young Designer of the Year Caitlin McLaughlin.

Just some of the anniversaries being celebrated in the Great Pavilion this year include the Hardy Plant Society, which will feature 60 hardy plants for its 60 years, and Hooksgreen Herbs which celebrates 10 years exhibiting at RHS shows. Fibrex Nurseries create a tiered exhibit in tribute to the 30th anniversary of the National Plant Collection of Pelargonium, and Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants returns to the world-famous flower show for its 25th year.

Nurseries exhibiting for the first time this year include Hare Spring Cottage Plants and Calamazag Nurseries, with previous Tradstand the Delphinium Society exhibiting in the Great Pavilion for the first time.


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