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Thoughts on RHS Chelsea 2017

by Robbie Honey

Every year the garden designers at the Chelsea Flower Show surpass themselves, creating incredible and mature landscapes defying the short 3 week window allowed for installation.

James Basson’s garden was particularly inspired. Designed around massive slabs of limestone to evoking a Maltese quarry and design and planted with plants suitable to such an arid landscape. The design modelled the interaction between humans and nature, highlighting the delicate balance required between them. It wasn't a pretty garden and it received some criticism but I loved it and the design was awarded a Gold medal.

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Another favourite was The Yorkshire Garden, a coastal garden by Tracey Foster which was designed using plants suited to a harsh, rugged, coastal environment . The water in the design rippled in a marvellously whimsical nod to the sea, adding brilliance to the design which was awarded a silver medal.


The Morgan Stanley Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw won a silver gilt medal. His vibrant landscape was inspired by patterns in nature, music, art and social communities and included giant Himalayan Lilies (Cardiocrinum giganteum). There was much consternation from the general public that the garden didn’t receive a Gold medal for its thought provoking, and creative design.


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Rosebie Morton from The Real Flower Company is a dear friend - she was the first to encourage me to start my own company back in the 90’s. She grows the most incredible English roses, sweet peas and greenery on her farms, and her stand was awash with these and featured a flower wall of English grown roses and sweet peas and the scent as you can imagine was utterly sublime.

Another rose highlight was The David Austin stand in the Main Pavilion. David Austin Roses with their voluptuous shapes and heavenly scents are an absolute favourite of mine. Hundreds of plants created an opulent and dreamy rose garden in full bloom. The plants showcased by growers and nurseries in the main pavilion are a fascination for a plantsman like me - the Orchid Society’s stand had a particularly fascinating array of jewel like orchids this year. Orchids were my first botanical love and I was the youngest member of The Orchid Society in Zimbabwe when I joined aged 11.


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Orchids were my first botanical love and I was the youngest member of The Orchid Society in Zimbabwe when I joined aged 11.


The plants showcased by growers and nurseries in the main pavilion are a fascination for a plantsman like me - the Orchid Society’s stand had a particularly fascinating array of jewel like orchids this year. Orchids were my first botanical love and I was the youngest member of The Orchid Society in Zimbabwe when I joined aged 11.

These were a few of my highlights of RHS Chelsea 2017 and I look forward to seeing what the designers and exhibitors are planning for next year.



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Learn more about Robbie Honey's work and practice by visiting his website.

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