Just made my once every few years visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. It does all feel like deja vu and
|Pepa's GArden celebrating Karst landscapes of Slovenia - inspiration for dry British gardens?|
|Part of Sarah Price's garden for The Telegraph, accomplished, but trouble is everyone was doing this this year, mostly natives.|
|I love this kind of touch - Sarah Price again|
|Thomas Hoblyn design - very good for instant impact, but wouldn't last a year in garden conditions before they'd begin to compete each other out.|
What is so odd about Chelsea is the way it illustrated the zeitgeist at work. It is almost as if all the designers sit down and decide what the theme is going to be, as so often gardens are remarkably similar. My first thoughts this year was ‘this is comfort gardening’, in a time of recession and uncertainty, everybody is making gardens which are safe and traditional, an impression reinforced by the muted colouring, the pastels, the lack of strong or vibrant colours. So many gardens featured intermingled naturalistic style planting - which made me feel very vindicated in having been promoting precisely this for so many years. Has the ‘New Perennial Garden’ finally come home? Maybe it has. Trouble is, after a while, it began to look a bit samey - this year’s plant seems to be Cow Parsley and as a grass substitute Carex muskingumensis. The problem is with timing, it’s actually too early to get many later-flowering plants in, so the plant palette feels a bit restricted. A lot of native wildflowers, for which the season is perfect, but since our flora is a limited one, that does not make for much variation. On the whole though planting was very well done, sophisticated and a lot of it would actually have worked in garden conditions.
It is of course relatively straightforward to get the intermingled look with plants from nurseries, crammed in far more tightly than they ever would be in the garden. The garden is a greater test, as clumps expand, plants compete, some spread, some don’t. What would really be a trial of design skill would be this: to design a Chelsea Garden which looked like it had been planted three or five years ago.