The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 – what it means for your garden

May 21st, 2018
Posted In: Garden trends & design

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show or ‘Chelsea’, as it’s known in the gardening world, is our Fashion Week.

#RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 - Chris Beardshaw's beautiful garden for Morgan Stanley

Chris Beardshaw’s design for Morgan Stanley and the NSPCC – just a beautiful garden at every level with abundant planting and a calm but positive use of colour. It won ‘Best in Show.’

The celebs may dip in and out, but the trends percolate down into our gardens – it’s probably more influential than any other show in the world.

I spent yesterday morning at the Chelsea Flower Show as a roving reporter for BBC Radio Kent’s excellent Sunday Gardening programme. Exhibitors were still putting the last minute touches to their stands, and the garden designers were anxiously tweaking their creations.

BBC Radio Kent Sunday Gardening at RHS Chelsea 2018

The BBC Radio Kent Sunday Gardening team, from left: me, Phil Harrison, Jane Streitfeild of the NGS, Steve Bradley and Louise, who kept us all organised.

Supershoes Laced with Hope Garden

Designer Laura Anstiss putting the finishing touches on the Supershoes Laced With Hope garden with Frosts.

Spirit of Cornwall garden at RHS Chelsea 2018

One of the puzzling things about going round while it’s still being constructed is knowing what’s meant to be in the garden and what isn’t. This ladder does look rather wonderful here. But it disappeared later so presumably not…in the VTB Spirit of Cornwall garden by Charles Stuart Towner.

Then I went round the show again to see what I think is going to be big in ‘ordinary’ gardens over the next few years.

Garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes

Paul Hervey-Brookes titivating the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden. He won a Gold medal for the garden.

All very different at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018

There is a definite wind of change blowing through the gardening world, judging by this year’s RHS Chelsea

The grasses and structured hedging of the past few years has almost completely been swept away.

Instead there are huge beds full of flowers and colour.

Vivid colour at the David Harber and Savills garden at RHS Chelsea

The David Harber and Savills Garden by Nic Howard – this garden was widely praised by garden writers on Twitter. Many of us were surprised it only won a Bronze medal.

Supershoes Laced with Hope garden

While I don’t normally want to see graffiti in gardens, I loved this garden for Supershoes Laced With Hope.

RHS Chelsea 2018 - the most colourful of recent years

It was a colourful Chelsea, with lots of planting.

Yellow is an emerging garden colour

At Capel Manor College, their display is called 50 Shades of Gold. I spoke to one of their designers who said ‘A few years ago, I’d never have considered using yellow in a garden.’ Their display is a celebration of yellow flowers of all kinds across all seasons.

And I spotted yellow in a number of other gardens, too, including Sarah Price’s garden for Morgan Stanley.

Yellow in the Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden

The Trailfinders South African Wine Estate garden, with yellow oilseed rape (!) in the foreground. All our mothers would be scandalised.

Yellow in the beautifully abundant 'Stihl Inspiration' garden

Lilac and yellow in the beautifully abundant Hillier ‘Stihl Inspiration’ garden. Hillier won their 73rd Gold medal at Chelsea for this garden.

Yellow in the LG Eco-city garden

Yellow in the gorgeous LG Eco-city garden by Hay-Joung Wang. She won a Silver-Gilt medal.

The free-standing arch

Taking that show gardens are a very pampered version of small town gardens, it’s interesting to see how many feature a free-standing arch. Adding height halfway along a small garden gives it a sense of proportion and gives the eye somewhere to pause, thus making the garden feel larger.

Japanese garden arch

The exquisite ‘Hospitality Garden’ for G-Lion by Kazuyuki Ishihara. Love that moss!

Urban Flow garden by Tony Woods

This arch in the Urban Flow Garden by Tony Woods of Gardenclublondon is made of a specially fired porcelain so it doesn’t need any maintenance and lasts forever.

Corten steel screen by Stark & Goldsmith

The corten steel arches and side of the arch were made by Stark & Greensmith. This garden  won a Gold and Best in Category.

Eucalyptus and logs arch

I rather like this ‘Forest Shower’ from The stand showed some smaller growing Eucalyptus, which can be planted successfully in small garden in a range of colours and heights. You can also prune and train some of the taller ones into shrubby bushes and shrub-on-a-stick. The forest shower is made using Eucalyptus log sections. The tree is E. perriniana juvenile form.

Corten steel

Beautifully textured corten steel has been around for a few years, but at RHS Chelsea 2018 it is big, big, big.

Corten steel at Hillier

Water feature with corten steel in the Stihl Inspiration garden for Hillier.

Corten steel screens

Corten steel screens for Stihl Inspiration, Hillier at RHS Chelsea

Corten steel pots at Capel Manor College

Pots of corten steel at Capel Manor College.

Corten steel grid by Stark & Greensmith

Corten steel grid made by Stark & Greensmith in the Urban Flow garden by Tony Woods.

Wood and willow – poetry and the personal touch

I saw statues, screens and accessories made of largely natural materials.

Flowers from the Farm at RHS Chelsea 2018

Giant horse sculpture on the Flowers From the Farm stand, a collective of British cut flower growers.

Oak & Rope Company at Chelsea 18

The Oak & Rope Company, exhibiting for the first time, won a Gold for their stand. It featured their hand-carved personalised garden furniture, screens, planters and accessories.

The Oak & Rope Company’s screens, steamer chairs, oak planters and more can be personalised with poetry, messages or personal names. Making your garden personal is very much a growing trend, whether it’s using upcycled and vintage furniture and accessories with a ‘story’ or with names and favourite poems.

Pin to remember ideas from RHS Chelsea Flower Show

New trends from the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show #gardening


8 comments on "The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 – what it means for your garden"

  1. Interesting article. However I’d like to see more eco-friendly gardens with features we can use on our gardens too (contemporary water butt, meadows, contemporary compost bins…).

    1. I’ll definitely bear that in mind – eco-friendly is so important and is just beginning to be considered in gardening. I shall be interested to find a contemporary compost bin – it actually sounds like rather a good business idea.

  2. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. Lupins and yellow seem to be the trend/

    1. Thank you! Yes, lots of lupins, looking rather gorgeous.

  3. Francesca says:

    The Chelsea Flower Show is always such an amazing event but I particularly love the colourful flower that have emerged this year – especially all the yellow. And the corten steel compliments the bright flowers amazingly, really stunning! Thanks for sharing these photographs.

    1. A pleasure – yes, this year has been good, I think.

  4. Dawn says:

    My favorite garden was the yellow/white flowered Eco Garden~ shades of yellow/gold, blue/purple with white mixed in to brighten everything up is a classic isn’t it? Thanks so much for the tour!

    1. I loved that one,too, and I think alot of people did. I was a bit surprised it ‘only’ got a Silver Gilt medal instead of a Gold.

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