“The quintessential most glorious piece of English you can find,” is how British sculptor and Chelsea medalist David Harber describes the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, where he has exhibited for a quarter of a century .
The flower show was held in September rather than May for the first time in its 108-year history, after the pandemic caused the live event to be postponed to 2020.
A visit reveals that all the elements that make Chelsea one of the main events of the English social calendar are present, with women donning their floral adornments, but with an extra layer to warm up this year in the autumn sun. Garden designers have adopted new palettes for their work and the gardens at Royal Hospital Chelsea are in resplendent fall blooms with fruiting apples, pomegranates and fig trees, as well as the rich colors of the seasonal foliage.
Another first in the history of the show is the introduction of two new design categories – for balconies and container gardening, in keeping with the practicalities of growing plants in urban environments with limited space. The Balcony Garden Backrest comes in a footprint of just two meters wide by five meters long, and container gardens are designed for environments where planting directly to the ground is not possible.
While many exhibits on display in Chelsea include plants that may not thrive in the UAE, the size and structure of balcony and container designs can be easily adapted to incorporate low-maintenance, tolerant native species. to drought. Case in point: Martha Krempel, designer of the Arcadia Balcony Garden, incorporated into her design containers containing both Yucca aloifolia (dagger plant) and Punica granatum (pomegranate) trees to add height, and both plants can be grown. in the United Arab Emirates.
âThis category shows what you can do with just a little bit of space and how important plants are to the environment; it is quite possible to create a haven or an oasis even when space is limited, âexplains Krempel. His scheme includes a rope strung over a reclaimed Jarrah wood swing seat with richly toned cushions, as well as a cafe table and chairs.
London-based artist Timna Woollard was commissioned to create a whimsical backdrop of a landscape scene in weather-resistant UV paint, which perpetuates the feel of plants beyond what is physically present. In this painted landscape is an ancient Indian door made of carved wood, which serves as a portal to the oasis outside.
An installation by London gardener Michael Coley, which was shortlisted for RHS Young Designer of the Year in 2016, features a dining table and benches as well as a single rattan chair suspended from a metal pergola.
Contemporary in the truest sense of the word, its balcony space features large steel planters, powder coated in British Racing Green, and paired with a contrasting planter and green and white wall panel background. It looks like stone, but is actually made with recycled plastics by the Welsh company Smile Plastics.
Three-dimensional interest is created at all points of the design by placing the planters at different heights and including the backdrop of the wall panel as well as the verticals of the metal pergola. âAll proportions are human, this is usable property space,â Coley explains. âIt is important to remember that with many exhibition gardens, the space is seen from the outside looking in. With a balcony, it is essential that it functions from the inside looking in. outward and you immediately have green elements in your gaze. “
Coley says he didn’t quite grasp the scale of designing a garden for Chelsea until he got there. There is really nothing else that really compares in the garden world, he says. It’s the horticultural equivalent of the Oscars.
The Flower Balcony, by award-winning London landscape designer Alexandra Noble, envelops the space of the interior balcony, the floor of which is covered with gray tiles interspersed with white arabesque stars.
A pair of container trees help create a feeling of enclosure with a continuous green edge that is interspersed with fragrant herbs and other edible foods – great for snacking or adding to a drink or salad while enjoying a meal outside.
âI always want to pack my gardens with as many plantings as possible and make them an ocean of greenery,â Noble explains. Yet the abundant design is also a flexible garden space that can be adapted for entertaining. The bench opens and can store cushions, and the table and chairs all fold down.
The Container Garden category is entirely designed by newly graduated garden designers selected by the RHS and offers a window into their view of the world. For example, Anna Dabrowska-Jaudi’s submission, The Stolen Soul Garden, gives shape to hidden human emotions. âThe title is a metaphor for the stolen opportunities that people with mental health can experience because they can feel disconnected from the world,â she says.
Three heavy planters in recycled oak wood, inspired by the scalloped shape of the Arca shell, were created in collaboration with Romanian artist Szilard Andreas Jakab. A rich, aged texture was induced by first burning the wood and then sanding it – giving it the appearance of petrified trees. Heavy containers sit on tiny platforms, giving the impression that they are floating lightly.
The planting throughout the scheme echoes in different places and the black back wall is encrusted at its central point with natural amethyst crystal as a visual reference to the spiritual threads that connect the human soul to life. A long black swimming pool reflects and reflects the elements of the garden, offering a soothing and tranquil note.
While the planting scheme for this container garden and green wall is more suited to the UK climate, the harsh elements could easily translate into an urban UAE environment with the introduction of herbs and succulents. drought resistant.
Working on the same container garden dossier, John McPherson’s Pop Street Garden, a recent garden design graduate, screams out loud. The riot of colors, shapes and imagery found in his design is positioned, McPherson says, to “begin the transition from lockdown to a long-awaited night on the town.”
McPherson is already working in the visual arts, and inspiration for his design was drawn from a painting by pop artist Peter Blake, fandom of Andy Warhol, as well as street art observed during his time working in New York City. . The bright colors, objects and sculptures create a gallery-like space, which is sure to bring a smile to people when they eat, drink and socialize.
Planting brightly colored containers in the space is designed to be basic and can be moved around depending on the season and need. The back wall of the garden features a mural by artist Robert Littleford, who also created the complementary sculptural pieces for the project.
As the world gradually begins to emerge from the worst ravages of Covid-19, a deeper appreciation for the importance of green spaces for relaxation, well-being, and connection with others has emerged. Chelsea designers take inspiration from the workload as they show that size is not a barrier to creating pockets of green oases no matter where you live.
Update: September 23, 2021, 7:00 a.m.