Adam Frost
“The QVC Garden”
Site number: MA11
Sponsor: QVC
Designer: Adam Frost
Contractor: New Ground Landscapes

Creating intimacy in the spotlight glare of a Chelsea show garden presents a tremendous challenge for any designer. Adam Frost, however, takes it in his stride with a garden of rare seclusion and tranquillity for shopping channel QVC.

This very private space is full of romance and beauty, a place of contemplation and quiet away from everyday cares. Sheltered beneath the protection of field maples (Acer campestre), a sunken seating area is furnished with timber benches around a fire pit and raised herb bed, evoking long, warm summer evenings lingering over an outdoor meal.

Surrounding this central point are gentle waves of grasses, astrantias and irises, dotted here and there with the romance of classic roses like ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘Winchester Cathedral’. Under the trees, woodlanders like ferns, foxgloves and cranesbills create a natural feel, and structural cubes of box scattered at random throughout the garden lend unity and rhythm to the planting. Twin waterfalls slip down the walls into rills, and paths of warm and inviting brick weave over the water and between the flowers. There is further secluded seating set into stone panels engraved with quotations on the cycle of life from poets such as Keats and Tennyson.

Adam Frost has won two gold medals at Chelsea, in 2007 and 2008, both for small gardens. His design in 2008 was also awarded Best Urban Garden. This is his first full show garden. Adam has worked across the design and landscaping industry during his career, beginning at Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland where he spent ten years designing and building gardens used by TV gardener Geoff Hamilton on BBC Gardeners’ World. More recently, he landscaped the new garden at the Royal National Rose Society, and built the RHS Growing Tastes garden for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in 2008.

“Future Nature”
Site number: MA13
Sponsor: Yorkshire Water
Designer: Ark Design Management Ltd
Contractor: Solar Solutions Ltd

This garden aims to show how we might ‘future proof’ our urban garden – adapting to changing climatic conditions while remaining responsive to the needs of people and wildlife.

Barakura English Garden
“Echoes of Japan in an English Garden”
Site number: RHW47
Sponsor: Barakura English Garden
Designer: Ms Kay Yamada
Contractor: The Outdoor Room

To commemorate 150 years of Anglo-Japanese alliance, Kay Yamada has designed a garden which fuses English and Japanese gardening styles.

Japanese gardening techiniques such as “sui-Kin-Kutsu” (water harps) and “Shira-Suna” (white sand), are used to represent a natural scene surrounding a gentle stream.

Cancer Research UK
“The Cancer Research UK Garden”
Site number: MA19
Sponsor: Cancer Research UK
Designer: Robert Myers
Contractor: Willerby Landscapes
Plant suppliers: Robin Tacchi Plants, Deepdale Trees, Knoll Gardens, Europlants,

Robert Myers, now a multiple gold medal winner and Chelsea veteran, makes a departure from his trademark elegant, classical style this year with a garden which teases us with illusions, where not everything is quite as it seems.

The design takes as its theme the notion of the impact which Cancer Research UK has on the search for a cure for cancer, and uses it to create a dynamic garden full of movement. At its epicentre is a sculpture by Simon Thomas, an artist known for his meditations on science and beauty, which appears to have crashed into a reflecting pool. The shockwaves ripple out into the garden, radiating across and from the water and spilling onto the paving and lawn. As they travel, they metamorphose from plant to stone and back again, and their sinuous curves are reflected in low stone walls layered through the planting.

The garden is dominated by multi-stemmed sumach (Rhus typhina), creating a canopy of dappled shade under which richly-textured sculptural evergreens and groundcover plants are punctuated with grasses and perennials in pale shades of white, blue and yellow.

It may be playful, but this garden has a practical side. The ‘ripples’ have a secondary purpose as urban drainage, and the small lawn is planted not with high-maintenance grass, but with Leptinella squallida, a tiny herb from New Zealand.

This is Robert Myers’ third full show garden. He has won gold medals each of the four times he has designed gardens at Chelsea, including for his two show gardens in 2007 and 2008. A landscape architect based in Herefordshire, he is known for his sensitive updating of historical gardens: recent work includes courtyards for several Cambridge colleges, and the new rose garden at RHS Garden, Wisley.

Desert Group – Desert Landscape Company
“Arabic Illusion”
Site number: MA13
Designer: James Balderstone
Contractor: Andy Bullen, Desert Landscape / Local contractor TBA.
Sponsor: Desert Group

The culture of the Arabic lifestyle is the theme of this garden, with the illusion of the desert in the secluded paradise of an enclosed space. It is a representation of a traditional Middle Eastern garden with reference to both the old and the new.

Eden Project Ltd.
“The Key”
Site number: MA20
Sponsor: Communities & Local Government
Designer: Paul Stone
Contractor: Eden Project Ltd
Plant suppliers: Tendercare, Linea Verde, Trevena Cross Nurseries, Bodmin Plant and Herb Nursery, Suttons Seeds, seed-grown plants raised in hostel and prison projects across the UK

This is a garden with a story to tell. It has been created in collaboration with people who have experienced exclusion, finding themselves homeless, in prison or otherwise struggling with life. It reflects their concerns and preoccupations, and seeks to show how it is possible to return and take part in society again.

The garden begins with a journey, through a dark labyrinth of dense planting in sombre tones of red and purple. Sinuous paths are thickly mulched with thousands of second-hand keys, symbolising both imprisonment and release. The way offers baffling choices as the path twists, turns and encounters obstacles such as a waisted archway draped with squash plants. Along one side a thickly planted green wall, up to 3m high in places, looms claustrophobically over the garden.

At the end, however, is an open, inviting space, sheltered by a bright, modern structure of recycled timber and glass. The edible plants surrounding this area, as well as many of the other plants in the garden, have been grown in prisons and hostels around the country, and the planting is a celebration of the social nature of horticulture. This is the philosophy behind the Places of Change programme, run by the Eden Project in Cornwall, which uses the therapy of building and planting to break the cycle between exclusion, crime, lack of opportunity and re-offending. The components of the garden will return to hostels and centres involved in Places of Change after the show.

Designer Paul Stone is no stranger to Chelsea, and has designed eight gardens for the show. His two previous show gardens, in 2001 and 2002, won silver gilt and bronze medals respectively, and he followed this by creating a series of small gardens and displays in the Great Pavilion, winning two gold medals, three silver gilts and a silver. He has also won many RHS medals for his show gardens at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, including the Tudor Rose Award for Best in Show in 1997.

Flemings Nurseries Ltd
“Flemings and Trailfinders Australian Garden”
Site Number: RHW34
Designer: Scott Wynd
Sponsor: Fleming’s Nurseries Pty Ltd

This design is all about enjoying an outdoors life. It includes many elements that add a touch of luxury to outdoor living.

Like many Australian gardens this design has a series of multi-functional outdoor rooms. The surrounding planting serves to soften the hard landscape as well as influence the mood of the space as a whole.

Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust
“‘Foreign & Colonial Investments’ Garden'”
Site number: MA4
Sponsor: Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust
Designer: Thomas Hoblyn
Contractor: The Outdoor Room
Plant supplier: Orchard Dene Nursery, Howard Nursery, Deepdale Nursery, South West Carnivorous Plants

Wetland gardens are rarely seen at Chelsea, but here designer Tom Hoblyn has taken the bogs of North Carolina as his inspiration in a garden celebrating one of the world’s most threatened habitats.

From a pool surrounded by trees, as if in a woodland clearing, rises a sloping bog garden full of plants, many of which in their native North Carolina are rare and endangered. Carnivorous plants such as Sarracenia flava, bog oak (Quercus palustris) and swamp cypress (Taxodium distichum) are all highly specialised plants, fighting to adapt and survive in the wild in the face of climate change and human interference.

A stylised wave sculpture undulates through the garden, reflecting the instability of an environment threatened by habitat erosion. Much of the garden is made of recycled materials: the furniture is made of sheep’s wool, while the surrounding wall is constructed from chippings and grit collected from road sweepings. Both the sculpture and the boardwalk are made from a giant redwood tree that fell in a storm. After the show, the entire garden will be reconstructed within a 12-acre garden in Suffolk.

While training at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Tom won a scholarship to travel to the United States to study carnivorous plants in the wild. He is known for his nature-inspired design, exploring the relationship between wild plants and the manmade environment.

This is his first full-sized show garden at Chelsea, although last year he won a gold medal with his urban garden, ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, also sponsored by Foreign & Colonial. He has also won two gold medals at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

HESCO and Leeds City Council
“The HESCO Garden”
Site number: MA21
Sponsor: HESCO
Designer: Leeds City Council
Contractor: Leeds City Council
Plant supplier: Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council are bring an American-style rain garden to Chelsea, with a design around the management of excess water in the garden – a subject close to many gardeners’ hearts following recent wet summers.

The damp Yorkshire climate provides the ideal opportunity to demonstrate rain gardens in action. Leeds recreates a stone cottage in the shelter of a wooded, rocky bluff, complete with a typically rainy day – pulses of water running from the cottage roof through storm water planters and down into the garden.

The bowl-shaped design directs surface water down into a main pond flanked by shallow overflow pools, planted with moisture-tolerant iris, hosta and Primula beesiana. Steel mesh gabions of reclaimed, locally-sourced stone from civil engineering sponsor HESCO are densely planted with ivy, making living walls which further absorb water.

Because rain gardens direct water away from some parts of the garden, they can also create free-draining areas even in wet climates – and Leeds make the most of this with their trademark lush, romantic planting style, using geraniums, geums and aquilegias in relaxed, natural pastel tones.

This is the fourth consecutive year Leeds City Council’s parks department have designed and constructed a show garden at Chelsea, and their seventh time at the show. They have never come away without a medal, and have twice been awarded silver-gilt.

The council describes Chelsea as a showcase for the skills and experience of their parks department as well as providing the chance for up to 50 staff to develop their horticultural skills through creating the garden. They will also be rebuilding it in one of Leeds’ public parks after the show is finished.

“Laurent-Perrier Garden”
Site number: MA18
Sponsor: Laurent-Perrier
Designer: Luciano Giubbilei
Plant supplier:

Laurent-Perrier gardens at Chelsea are renowned for their understated and sophisticated designs, and Luciano Giubbilei’s creation for Chelsea 2009 is no exception: an Italianate garden for the 21st century where strong geometric lines blur the boundaries between nature, art and architecture.

The garden is dominated by the classic lines of evergreen hornbeam, yew and box, their strong, simple shapes repeated rhythmically to create a sense of calmness and order. But these are no ordinary hedges: tiered on one side and raised up on the other, their clean, architectural lines play with the very nature of garden boundaries. The idea is developed further to the rear of the garden, where a monolithic stone wall is textured to resemble a hedge. On the wall, a sculpture in pre-rusted Corten steel by celebrated artist Nigel Hall explores the relationship between geometry and landscape.

Water features punctuate the design: as well as the pool beneath the wall, simple rills are cut into the blocks of hornbeam, leading the eye out of the garden and emphasising the tranquillity of the setting. Planting is restrained, with blocks of gently swaying Calamagrostis and Deschampsia among contrasting groups of iris, astrantia and paeonies in shades of claret and deep near-black.

Luciano Giubbilei is a newcomer to Chelsea, but is well-known across Europe for his award-winning, understated design style blending classical and modern influences. He cites the clean lines of classical Italian architecture, such as the 17th-century Villa Gamberaia in his native Tuscany, as inspiration for his simple yet elegant compositions.

Laurie Chetwood/Patrick Collins
“Perfume Garden”
Site number: TR3
Sponsor: Gazeley
Designer: Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins
Contractor: Willerby Landscapes Ltd.
Plant suppliers: Deepdale Trees, Jacques Amand

Four hundred years ago, Queen Elizabeth I ordered the manufacture of a perfume especially created for her. She sent emissaries to the Middle East to source ingredients: they came back with a plant list, and a recipe.

This is the inspiration behind the Perfume Garden, an olfactory journey through time from that earliest of perfumes to the modern day. It began with another journey, to Grasse, in south-east France: there, Elizabeth I’s perfume was recreated with the help of Jean Patou, one of France’s oldest and best-known perfume houses. The plants used in this early scent are combined with more modern perfumery ingredients to trace the development of perfume through the ages.

Clipped western red cedars (Thuja plicata) form the backbone of the garden, echoed in a spiralling wall of cedar sweeping gracefully around and upwards into a stainless steel shroud. This is the perfumery, where visitors can try the recreated perfume for themselves. Delicate spires burst from its heart and hold aloft petal-like canopies disguising photovoltaic cells and rainwater-harvesting systems.

Every plant in the garden has a function in the creation of scent. Some are familiar: Lavandula stoechas, for example, or Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. But there are unexpected ingredients here, too: the male fern, Dryopteris felix-mas, whose rhizomes yield an oil used in earthy, masculine fougère scents; and Sedum rosea, or rose root, whose roots smell of violets.

Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins return to Chelsea after creating a gold-medal winning garden together in 2007. Patrick Collins, who also designed a silver-gilt winning show garden at Chelsea in 2004, is a contemporary garden designer known for his use of clean lines and strong geometry. Laurie Chetwood is an award-winning architect, renowned for environmentally innovative design, and often takes his inspiration from the lives of plants and insects.

Marshalls plc
“The Marshalls Living Street”
Site number: MA15
Sponsor: Marshalls plc
Designer: Ian Dexter, Marshalls
Contractor: Landform Consultants
Plant suppliers: Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Aldingbourne Nurseries, Architectural Plants, Deepdale Trees

Beautiful gardens, sustainability and city living might seem to be mutually incompatible ideas, but Chelsea show sponsor Marshalls sets out to prove that it is possible to combine all three to make our local environment a better place to live.

Designer Ian Dexter has produced not one show garden, but four: a streetscape of terraced front gardens, each with their own character, looking out onto a typical urban pavement complete with street trees.

Each garden reflects its owner’s personality and situation. A couple committed to growing your own, for example, have edible plants woven among the ornamental ones, while a young family needing the space for parking can still enjoy a green wall planted with heuchera and saxifrages.

Subtle details link all four gardens together, such as self-seeding Angelica archangelica which pops up right along the street. Marshalls’ new permeable paving system is used throughout, looking and behaving like concrete blocks yet allowing water to drain through. In one garden, this soakaway rainwater is also siphoned off to be re-used in a water feature.

The planting also provides plenty of good ideas to take home. The parking area is ‘greened’ with a ribbon of tough, mound-forming Crassula sarcocaulis, positioned so that the car can be parked over it; and the street trees are ornamental pears, chosen for pollution tolerance and long season of interest. After the show, the entire garden will be donated to Living Streets, a charity campaigning to improve streetscapes across Britain.

Marshalls have sponsored a garden at Chelsea every year since 2005. They won silver and gold for two small gardens in 2005 and 2006, and silver medals for their show gardens in 2007 and 2008. Ian Dexter, the Marshalls in-house garden designer, returns to Chelsea after designing his first show garden for Marshalls last year.

Quilted Velvet
“The Quilted Velvet Garden”
Site number: RHW 31
Sponsor: Quilted Velvet
Designer: Tony Smith
Contractor: Hortus infinitus
Plant supplier: Evergreen Exterior Services Ltd, Burston Nurseries

One of the most provocative and mould-breaking gardens at Chelsea this year, Tony Smith’s creation for Quilted Velvet is likely to prove one of the main talking-points of the show.

Tony describes himself as “somewhere between garden design and art”, and this might also describe the Quilted Velvet Garden. This is a garden of contrasts: softness is juxtaposed with hardness, sharp with smooth, and even the two halves of the garden are inversions of each other: one half, densely planted and raised, while the other is sunken and minimalist, negotiated via raised stepping-stones of slate and grass.

The sunken area challenges our preconceived notions of what a garden is, but it’s the raised, planted area – laid out, at first glance, far more like a conventional garden – which is the least comfortable of the two. The planting is rough and spiky, dominated by yuccas, palms and cordylines: by contrast the sunken area is full of flowers, punctuated with softly architectural Cupressus sempervirens.

The garden bucks convention at Chelsea in many ways. Bedding plants, for example, are usually eschewed by designers, yet Tony carpets half the garden with mauve busy lizzies, backed with a wall of naturally purple Welsh slate. This is a garden to challenge and perhaps change the way we think about how things should be.

This is Tony Smith’s first show garden for Chelsea. His thought-provoking designs have won him a reputation as one of the country’s foremost conceptual garden artists. A former professional tennis coach, his avant-garde art installations include a meditation on war for Chelsea in 2008, as well as work for The Eden Project and The Millennium Seed Bank at Kew. He also won gold and Best Conceptual Garden at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show for the past two years.

The Daily Telegraph
“The Daily Telegraph Garden”
Site number: MA17
Sponsor: The Daily Telegraph
Designer: Ulf Nordfjell
Plant supplier:

This is the second time celebrated Swedish designer Ulf Nordfjell has brought his blend of natural simplicity and cool Scandinavian chic to a Chelsea show garden. The first time, in 2007, he went home with a gold medal and the knowledge that he had shown the way for a new approach in garden design.

He makes a welcome return this year for the Daily Telegraph, and again takes the beauty of natural forms as his inspiration. The garden is dominated by an ancient, windswept Pinus nigra, and much of the planting is similarly close to nature: common harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), native water marginal Butomus umbellatus, and seakale (Crambe maritima) are typical of the near-wild plants used by Ulf and not often seen at Chelsea.

This is not, however, a wild garden, and Ulf describes it as ‘designed in the spirit of nature rather than mimicking it’. More cultivated plants are also here, but chosen for their natural-looking beauty: Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’, for example, is a graceful rose with a long pedigree and flowers exquisite in their simplicity. The muted colour scheme of grey, blue and white also emphasises the feeling of clean elegance.

Strong, modern structure is provided by espaliered hedges of hornbeam backed with black walls partially planted with ivy, and a minimalist garden building of glass and timber showcases the work of Swedish artists. The effect is to combine and contrast the pared-down, natural Swedish style with a more mannered British approach.

Ulf Nordfjell is a landscape architect and true plantsman. His gardens juxtapose nature with strong modern design, setting wild plants and grasses against bold, ultra-modern steel, wood or granite and often using water to produce the Scandinavian clarity of light and colour. His work, mainly based in Sweden, has won him international acclaim and several awards.

Turismo de Canarias
“Canarias – View of Paradise”
Site number: RHW50
Sponsor: Turismo de Canarias
Designer: James Wong and David Cubero
Contractor: Arun Landscapes

Planted exclusively with species native and iconic to the Canary Island, Archipelago, this ‘floating’ garden aims to transport visitors to the threatened floral of what many biologists call “Europe’s Galapagos”.

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