26 May 2016
London this May is full of wilderness, contained in small pockets on a well-known showground in SW3. The trend towards the less clipped and cultivated has been building over past years, and it sees a major triumph at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. The juxtaposition of this looser planting with crisp modern lines was something we worked with in our show garden in 2015, it seems this aesthetic, combined with the wildness of Dan Pearson’s 2015 garden has spilled over to this year’s show.
Planting schemes in the main avenue reminded us more of rocky wildernesses, forgotten meadows and prairies than they did of the manicured formality of the Flower Show in years past. Cleve West’s M&G garden, and James Basson’s garden for L’Occitane both contained such a strong sense of place, with an accordingly localised approach to planting. As such, there were species on show this year that the 19th century originators of the show would have balked at. They would have called them weeds. We have come to embrace them as legitimately beautiful additions to planting schemes.
Gardens that stuck with a more closely packed, hot-house style approach to planting seemed overwhelming and uncommunicative. It was the simplicity of wilder habitats that continued to speak so clearly this year.
- Elizabeth Tyler