… and for 2011, it's water and wildflowers. All the best and brightest gardens at Chelsea this year seem to exhibit one or both of these feature trends. The garden that was named best in show was created by Cleve West, and it featured both. Cleve was inspired by ruins he visited in Libya and he created a beautiful sunken garden with a modern fountain wall and a mix of self seeding flowers that will migrate as the garden ages.
The Water Trend
Diarmuid Gavin's Sky Garden features not one, but 25 pools within the garden and another gold medal winner, the Malaysia garden is set on a jungle stream. The Cancer Research UK Garden highlights it's coastal theme by featuring shallow water with pebbles reminiscent of rock pools and Sarah Eberle's Monaco Garden displays a glamorous pool with a cantilevered fountain that is imagined for a place with lots of high rise living and spectacular views.
The Wildflower Trend
Chelsea has gone decidedly more natural in recent years. This year many gardens feature plants that are native or often considered wild, planted together in a loose and unstructured airy way that resembles something you might find in the most beautiful meadows you can imagine. In addition to Cleve West's garden, The Royal Bank of Canada sponsored the Wild Garden which showcases wild flowers. If you love the look of that garden, you can even download a planting plan for a smaller version that you can create in you own space.
Other gardens with natural planting themes are The Childs Garden in Wales, the Hesco Garden (which also features a water wheel) and The Times/ Kew garden which aims to highlight the utility of plants.
Chelsea is arguably the biggest event in the garden design world. The show is in full swing having started yesterday, and will continue through the weekend. Coverage of the event abounds and new images and stories will emerge all week. If you are not in London, good websites for taking it all in from afar are the Royal Horticultural Society, The Daily Telegraph, The BBC and Studio 'g'.