Recovery fuels Chelsea success stories

Each of the top-three gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show separated by a single point under new voting procedure.

Bugg: successful garden design
Bugg: successful garden design

Last week's RHS Chelsea Flower Show reflected a return to prosperity in the economy and garden market in the South East, although overall spend on show gardens was down on the 2013 centenary year.

The top three gardens - Laurent Perrier (designed by Luciano Giubbilei and built by Crocus), The Daily Telegraph (Paul Gazerwitz and Tommaso del Buono/Crocus) and M&G (Cleve West/Steve Swatton) - were separated by one point each under the new points-based judging.

Of the other gold winners, Charlotte Rowe's was believed to have cost £450,000, while gardens from Gucci and House of Fraser also reflected the housing market, retail, landscape and design uplift.

However, there was a lack of sponsored gardens on the waiting list. Many star designers decided to take a year off, allowing newer faces to come through.

Of these, Hugo Bugg's Royal Bank of Canada water garden (Landscape Associates and Himalayan Landscaping) was the most successful, winning a gold.

The RHS promoted 2014 as the year of fresh young designers, such as Bord na Mona's Harry and David Rich, Bugg, Help for Heroes' Matt Keightley and Brewin Dolphin's Matt Childs. Other key themes this year were Italian style, World War One and naturalistic planting.

The RHS installed new shows management this year, with Stephen Bennett and Bob Sweet leaving and David Morley taking over as head of gardens, shows and retail. Another big change was in TV coverage, with Monty Don replacing Alan Titchmarsh, but this had little impact on viewing figures.

House of Fraser garden designer Jason Lock said: "There's a lot of buoyancy in the market, mostly in London - it could almost be another country - but that's slowly trickling out across the country."

Better spring weather meant plants were six weeks ahead of 2013. Big issues exhibitors sought to raise included plant pests and diseases by the Food & Environment Research Agency and the Corporation of London.

Self-promotion was taken up widely, with the official Twitter hashtag #rhschelsea generating 33,000 tweets and countless "selfie" mobile phone self portraits.

For 2015, the Australian 2013 best in show landscapers, who worked on Alan Titchmarsh's Britain in Bloom show feature, said they might return, as did Bugg. M&G designer Cleve West said he will not.

Plant supplier Kelways said three designers have already approached them about next year, while contractor Outdoor Room hopes to build a couple of gardens again. Stephen Bennett's son Luke Bennett said he will exhibit a butterfly garden on the Chelsea triangle if he finds sponsorship. M&G and The Daily Telegraph will be back, as will Laurent Perrier to defend its title.

In the marquee, Birmingham City Council won the president's award for its World War One-themed display while Jon Wheatley secured the diamond jubilee award for his Britain in Bloom exhibit.

Several plant breeders and their agents used exhibitors such as Hillier, which won a 69th gold, Hardy's, which won a 19th gold, and Scotts to display Plant of the Year contenders.

- For full Chelsea coverage including award winners, show garden images and new plant pictures, see www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/Chelsea.

Chelsea 2014 Trends
In
- Pines
- Birch
- Lawns
- Iris sibirica
- Poppies
- Woodland planting
- Naturalistic planting
- Astrantia
- Lupins
- Foxgloves
- Selfies

Out
- Allium
- Grow your own (on show gardens)
- Cow parsley
Winners
Best Show Garden: The Laurent-Perrier Garden (Luciano Guibbelei)
Best Fresh Garden: The Mind's Eye (LDC Design)
Best Artisan Garden: Togenkyo - A Paradise on Earth (Kazuyuki Ishihara)
Plant of the Year: Hydrangea macrophylla 'Miss Saori' (Javado/Ryoji
Irie)
Diamond Jubilee Award: South West in Bloom
President's Award: Birmingham City Council
Best RHS Discovery exhibit: Sparsholt College
People's Choice: Help for Heroes (Matt Keightley)


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