Wellness & Flowers at RHS Chelsea Flower Show – A virtual tour around the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where I was just two days ago. Walk with me around this most fragrant and beautiful of British institutions, and enjoy my top three gardens, including the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, which won a Gold Medal, as well as some of my favourite blooms in the Grand Pavilion.
with Viking Cruises
I have always wanted to visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, but I never made it when I was living in SW France, so when I received an invitation from Viking Cruises to attend this week, I was thrilled to be able to accept. The day couldn’t have been more perfect as the weather was hot and sunny all day, which was lucky, as I’ve watched coverage of the flower show on the TV when it’s been tipping it down, so it really was the perfect day. The flower show runs until 5:30pm Saturday 26th May this year, so if you are reading this now and live within travelling distance, then why not pop down to see all the beautiful gardens and flowers, it’s well worth a visit and is incredibly uplifting. And, don’t forget to visit the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, which won a Gold Medal; designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes, the garden is inspired by the Nordic way of life, as in being at one and in harmony with nature.
Along with aromatic herbs, simple flowers, culinary and medicinal plants, the focal point in the centre of the garden is a lovely mulberry tree, which Paul the garden designer has been nurturing for the last five years. I loved the simplicity and honesty of the garden, it wasn’t trying to be anything other than somewhere you could relax with nature and enjoy the prospect of unwinding in an unstructured but carefully designed space. As part of the idea to promote well-being, there is a working steam sauna and plunge pool within the garden. Angelica, Myrrh, Rhubarb Root, Woodruff, Hazel, Ferns, Honesty and Thyme are planted in and around the winding pathway that eventually leads to a boardwalk and a bench, where one can sit to contemplate the world and their surroundings.
The garden is designed around the idea that it might belong to a couple or a single person, and is a place of sanctuary where they can relax, feel at home with nature and unwind from the stresses of modern-day living. As I walked around the garden with Paul who explained his ideas behind the design, I felt a sense of calm and tranquillity that I always feel when I am outside and communing with nature. There were flashier and more vibrant gardens at the show, as in designed with bright flowers and shrubs, but there’s something about the varying shades of greens that makes me feel so relaxed, and if that’s what the garden set out to do, then it was very successful. In common with the designs on the Viking Cruises ships, the garden had that Scandinavian feel of simple elegance and space, which leads to a feeling of wellness in all its forms.
Viking Cruises Wellness Garden
The other two gardens that I loved, were the Welcome to Yorkshire Garden and The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate Garden, both garden resonating with me on a very personal level, as my family and I have lived in Yorkshire for over 30 years (it’s my adopted county), I’m now in North Wales as many readers will know, and I was born in South Africa. The Yorkshire garden won a Gold Medal and also an award for the best constructed in the show; designed by Mark Gregory, the garden is:
“inspired by the Yorkshire Dales, a picturesque area that epitomises the essence of the county, and is world-famous for artisan Wensleydale cheeses, quintessential buttercup meadows and rich flora. Set on the edge of a woodland, a tumbling beck runs past a stone bothy into soft pastures. The colour scheme has hints of purple, pink and white with a mixture of dense and varied planting. Dry limestone walls dissect the meadow land and separate the bothy, with its cultivated and romantic cottage garden, from the natural landscape”
“Flowers and produce abound – from a flowering wisteria to magnificent cabbages – showing how the gardener has used every available space, even using an old tank as a water-butt with the tap housed in the stone walls”
“Particular attention to detail has been lavished on the limestone walls, with seams of larger ‘through stones’ holding more irregular shaped stones in place – a particular detail of the walling from the Wensleydale area”
“At the rear of the garden, the babbling brook emerges from under a boulder, backed by dense woodland planting of larch, elder and hazel being a natural area for wildlife to feel at home”
The South African wine estate garden is very reminiscent of scenes I grew up with, and the lovely little Cape Dutch house sets off the garden so beautifully and poignantly. Designed by Jonathan Snow, the garden won a Gilt Silver medal and is described as: “The winelands of South Africa’s Western Cape are instantly recognisable and strikingly beautiful. This garden is a snapshot of a traditional South African wine estate. A charming Cape Dutch homestead with a terracotta-tiled terrace leads down steps into a formal, romantic garden, then through a gate to a vineyard. Beyond the vineyard is a representation of the wild and beautiful fynbos landscape. Plants of the fynbos including agapanthus, gladioli, kniphofias and pelargoniums are shown growing in their natural environment – among an evergreen, leathery-leaved Mediterranean-type shrubland with occasional splashes of bright colours and exotic-looking flowers. In contrast, the manicured, domestic garden contains calmer, softer tones with more lush, fresh foliage. Representing an area of recently burnt fynbos, bright bulbs, seedlings and resprouting plants can be seen growing among the blackened remains of older vegetation”
“The dense planting of the native fynbos landscape is represented beautifully, with many well-known garden plants – such as red hot pokers (Knphofia), agapanthus and proteas – resplendently intermingled”
“Box hedges contain the informal planting outside the house with billowing flowering dill, red-pink roses and spires of white foxgloves – which intentionally link through colour and texture to the natural fynbos part of the garden”
“Atmosphere abounds here, with planting, hard materials and even the facade of the house being in keeping with the landscape the garden represents”
As well as the gardens at the flower show, The Grand Pavilion was the place to go to see what blooms are popular this year, and it seems that good old-fashioned cottage garden plants such as Foxgloves, Lupins, Lavender, Delphiniums and Roses are popular along with Alliums, Clematis, Hellebores and Peonies. There were also some fabulous trade exhibitions to tempt you to buy, from Lapland Cottages to Garden Sheds, Fire-Pits and a very seductive old Citroën H Van that was a bar selling St Germain cocktails. The show is open from 8am to 8pm today, Friday the 25th and from 8am to 5:30pm tomorrow the 26th May. And today, is the day for The Chelsea Late
for the first time ever you can visit Ranelagh Gardens for an evening of live music, entertainment and more, which sounds like it will be a magical evening. I hope you have enjoyed my whistle-stop tour of Chelsea Flower Show, I’ll be back with a new seasonal recipe soon, have a GREAT bank holiday weekend, Karen.
Disclaimer: My entry was paid for by Viking Cruises, and I was not asked to write about my experiences or to promote Viking Cruises in any way.
Images: Karen Burns-Booth and RHS Chelsea Flower Show
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Blooms, Plants and Gardens