Everything you missed from Chelsea Flower Show

Celebrities including English actresses Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley were spotted.

Yolanthe Fawehinmi
Tuesday 28 May 2024 12:24 BST
Queen Camilla with designer Holly Johnston during a visit to The Bridgerton Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. (Adrian Dennis/PA)
Queen Camilla with designer Holly Johnston during a visit to The Bridgerton Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. (Adrian Dennis/PA)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

It’s been just over a week since the RHS Chelsea Flower Show revealed some innovative garden designs, and extravagant flower displays and offered an expansive shopping experience.

Here are some of the highlights you may have missed from the show…

The Bridgerton Garden

Designer Holly Johnston debuted at RHS Chelsea with The Bridgerton Garden, inspired by Netflix and Shondaland’s TV drama Bridgerton.

Johnston based her design on the story and evolution of Penelope Featherington played by Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, who in Season 3: Part 1 – which is out now – finally embraces her true identity as her relationship with Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) blossoms.

The romantic garden has a moongate at the entrance – the first at Chelsea in over 20 years – created by a dry-stone waller and craftsman at Natural By Design in Holmfirth, Lewyn Diveney-Clegg, whilst a Regency Georgian-style reclaimed three-tier fountain, which is nearly 90 years old, takes centre stage.

To depict what’s usually on screen in Bridgerton, Johnston decided to use calm and muted plants, including Rosa white pet and a bright yellow wallflower symbolic of Penelope’s journey called Erysimum ‘Bredon’, just to name a few.

There is also an informal mix of climbers, shrubs, perennials and grasses to reflect a sense of ease, and it’s obvious that sustainability was the only way to go for Johnston.

Royals visit the show

For the first time since the King was named as the patron of the organisers of the show, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – the late Queen held this position for 70 years – Charles and Queen Camilla visited RHS Chelsea last Monday.

They toured some of the many gardens and displays on show, whilst taking some time to speak with the designers about their work and some school children who were present.

The best show garden

The Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Forest Bathing Garden, designed by Ula Maria, was the winning garden of RHS Chelsea – it was also awarded a gold medal.

It was designed to be a place of refuge for people who are affected by a muscle-wasting condition, alongside their families and clinicians.

Maria took inspiration from the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, which is the act of bathing in the forest to reconnect with nature through your senses. She wanted to garden to stir up people’s imagination and help bridge the gap between them and the natural world.

Plant of the year

The prunus ‘starlight’, bred by Ken Tobutt, exhibited by Green Jjam Nursuries and supplied by Frank P Matthews, was crowned as the plant of the year.

Tobutt is also known as the creator of many other new shrubs and trees, including the familiar lacy, purple-leaved Black Lace (‘Eva’) elderberry and the Ballerina Series of apple varieties.

For RHS Chelsea judges, the uniquely star-shaped white flowers stood out from the wide range of finalists as an outstanding tree, which is perfect for spring and small gardens – it grows in early March and late autumn.

“The flower type is unusual and a great innovation in plant breeding… ‘Starlight’ is a robust tree with [a] graceful habit, performing well on all soil types and regions of the UK,” said Frank P Matthews.

Celeb sightings

Celebrities, including English actresses Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley, visited some of the gardens at RHS Chelsea. Stars including Amanda Holden and Myleene Klass were pictured holding an umbrella made from climate-resilient flowers, which featured in the charity’s WaterAid Garden – which was awarded a gold medal by judges – to highlight the power of rainwater.

British actress Indira Varma unveiled the garden and TV presenter Prue Leith was also one of the first visitors to the garden shining a light on the global water crisis.

Meanwhile, Dench was presented with a seedling grown from the felled Sycamore Gap tree, by seven-year-old Charlotte Crowe – a pupil of Henshaw CE Primary School, which is located near the Sycamore Gap in Northumberland. She placed it in the National Trust garden at the 2024 event.

Bridgerton star Adjoa Andoh also visited a garden from St James’s in London, the first time in many years that a church has been represented. Landscape architect Robert Myers designed it.

Other celebrities that were spotted include Mary Berry, Katie Piper, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Will Young, Floella Benjamin and Nick Grimshaw, to name a few. Moss

There were several trends displayed in designs that visitors could take home and implement in their own gardens, balconies and containers, including moss.

It was used in many woodland-style designs, for example, The National Autistic Society Garden, which was designed by Sophie Parmenter and Dido Milne.

The benefits of moss in gardens are often overlooked, but this year’s RHS Chelsea made a fuss about some of its life-giving qualities. Not only can it maintain moisture in the soil below and keep conditions around them humid, it also helps to soak up rainfall.

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