By Megan Slack
The most prestigious garden event on the calendar, Chelsea Flower Show, is well and truly underway. Global horticultural enthusiasts have already spent days foreshadowing trends and learning from the masters – but the festival reached its climax yesterday when they announced which designs would take gold.
Alongside crowning their four golden gardens, the RHS simultaneously announced the ‘Best in Show Garden’ – with the Guangzhou Garden taking the honor this year. But is there a uniting feature that unites the four gardens? And how can we mirror the beauty of the Guangzhou Garden and other gold winners throughout our garden ideas?
We caught up with the co-designer Peter Chmiel, who worked alongside Chin-Jung Chen to create the most celebrated garden of the moment.
1. Guangzhou Garden – Best in Show Garden at Chelsea Flower Show
The eponymously named Guangzhou Garden is a celebration of the southeastern Chinese city Guangzhou. Showcasing a maze of flowing waters and alluring green plantings, the garden is an escapist sanctuary that pays homage to the city – whilst promoting biodiversity.
‘The inspiration is from Guangzhou in southeast China. It is known as the city between the mountain and water. That is the starting point,’ Peter explains.
‘We went out there for three or four days two years ago. We wanted to represent the best of Guangzhou in a 20x10 meter garden, and the concept came around quite quickly.’
The garden’s nod to Guangzhou makes the space unique, but what does it have in common with other gold medalists? The answer is in its focus on biodiversity.
‘Water is such a magnet for wildlife,’ Peter says. ‘There are 20,000 liters of water. A third is a water, a third is planting, and a third is footpaths and structures.’ These babbling waters unite the garden to other biodiverse awardees whilst emphasizing the aesthetic of the Himalayan foothills – thus crowning it as the best garden at Chelsea Flower Show.
2. Yeo Valley Organic Garden
The second biodiverse-focused garden – and the second to take gold – is the Yeo Valley Organic Garden – designed to mirror the diversity of life found on Yeo Valley’s dairy farm in Somerset. The space, designed by Tom Massey, and supported by Yeo Valley, features a wild perennial meadow filled with flowering blooms, a glade of silver birch, and a statement egg-shaped wooden hide.
There is also a selection of charred logs, which will be turned into biochar after the show, highlighting the importance of soil health and returning carbon to the earth.
‘I’ve loved working with Sarah and Tim from Yeo Valley Organic, and this is testament to their commitment to sustainable farming and growing,’ Tom shares. ‘I’m absolutely delighted to win gold at the first and only September Chelsea. We created this garden to showcase organic, and it’s a win for the whole team.’
3. The M&G Garden
With its array of herbaceous perennials and late-flowering plant blooms, the M&G Garden is the basis of our autumnal planting ideas. Designed by Harris Bugg Studio and sponsored by M&G, the garden aims to provoke conversation about the importance of urban green places that are lost in the mass development of towns and cities.
These urban projects are known to overrun biodiverse environments; however, the M&G Garden celebrates the newfound appreciation for greenspaces following the pandemic in the most beautiful way possible.
4. Trailfinders’ 50th Anniversary Garden
With planting that originates from altitudes of between 2,000 and 4,000 meters, the Trailfinders’ 50th Anniversary Garden is a worthy winner of the RHS’s final gold medal this Chelsea Flower Show.
Just as the Guangzhou Garden stemmed from the shadow of the Trailfinders’ 50th Anniversary Garden combines rhododendrons and persicarias with softer cautleyas, hedychiums, and colocasias to create another tribute to Asia’s most famous peaks.
These sustainable small garden ideas will set the tone for the biggest garden trends of the season and beyond. But for not, we’ll see what the last days of the Chelsea Flower Show brings.
Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc's Homes titles. She has a background in national newspapers in the UK and has experience in fashion and travel journalism, which she previously practised whilst living in Paris and New York City. Her adoration for these fashion capitals means she particularly enjoys writing about upcoming styles and trends for Homes & Gardens. Megan also loves discovering vintage pieces in her spare time, meaning her decor is largely influenced by the beauty of the jazz age.
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