I love garden shows and I am fascinated by the People’s Choice Awards in any of the Royal Horticultural Society Garden Shows. So, I thought I’d take a back look at Chelsea and Hampton Court over the past two years to see if there are any themes coming through.
What is it that attracts?
Photos by David Baldock or the Royal Horticultural Society.
Not surprising really – it seems relevance to our own lives is probably at the top of the list.
In their own homes, people are looking for gardens to provide escape, places to entertain, eat, just sit, to live.
The Peoples’ Choice from Hampton Court in 2016, Squire’s 80th Anniversary Garden designed by Catherine MacDonald, shows this to perfection. This garden has been built with space to live in, escape to, entertain in, have fun.
The concrete patio could be hard and uninviting but surrounded by flower filled gardens and small trees to give scale, and with lawn to soften this area, it is perfect for people.
At Chelsea this year, The Morgan Stanley garden designed by Chris Beardshaw, won the people’s accolades and definitely this has space for people.
This beautiful pergola and patio is big enough for gathering within and secluded and beautiful enough to escape within.
In 2016 at Chelsea, it was The Telegraph Garden, designed by Andy Sturgeon, which received the Peoples’ Award.
I added this garden because it is different from most of the People’s Choice gardens.
Complex and unusual, and not likely to be chosen as a garden theme by most people, this elegant garden was a little different from most gardens chosen for this award, but it does have space for living. The concrete is softened with sophisticated planting to give it scale and depth – yes it does provide that area for escape or entertainment.
Over the bridge, hidden behind the trees is a seating nook constructed around a fire. Hard space yes – but charming and definitely inviting
Of course, spaces for escape need to be beautiful. Not all show gardens fit this requirement. Many are designed to showcase causes rather than living and many causes can be confronting.
But invariably people looking for gardens to live in are looking for beauty and I have always assumed that this would be a particular style of beauty – the classic English garden.
The Telegraph Garden
breaks the mold. Yes – it is stunning – elegantly beautiful. But it certainly is not the classic English garden. Very contemporary and a little clean in design this is a modern garden.
The Squire’s 80th Anniversary Garden is more classically designed. It is a suburban garden for a couple with grown up children. The assumptions is that the couple are looking for an elegant practical design for entertaining, and peacefulness. This garden meets the design brief. Apart from the space for living, there are vegetables and herbs, water and pots of flowers.
The most classically designed of all the gardens is The Morgan Stanley Garden.
It is beautiful with stone walls, pretty paths, topiary to add structure and that lovely pergola – this is an elegant garden and I can see why it really took the peoples’ fancy
And finally, we love a flower filled garden. Look at the wonderful complex flower beds in Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley Garden.
The colour palette of soft blues with touches of white and ochre. The texture shown off with those spikes of purple and ochre lupins. The soft contrast of the feathery planting in the front of the image. This is complex planting with a sure touch – it is stunning.
But the other two gardens are flower filled too. Even the more austere Telegraph garden which is constrained by concrete and stone is a little floriferous. The planting is described as warm and semi-arid and it certainly fits that bill. As with the other gardens, planting is certainly complex, with many different species to give texture and to soften that harsh stone structure.