It won’t have escaped most people’s notice that the show gardens at Chelsea were decidedly conscientious in their themes this year, with subjects ranging from mental health to child protection. All glorious to behold, these spaces are well and truly making the point that gardens and green spaces are healing and offer a route to salvation from our so-often damaging modern lives.
There has of course been much publicity surrounding Matt Keightly’s Feel Good Garden, which has been designed as a calming oasis for the Chelsea crowds, but more importantly to flag up the importance of creating safe and peaceful spaces for the thousands of people who are struggling with mental health issues. The garden has been designed as part of competition giving Mental Health Trusts across the UK the chance to win the garden after the show.
No less provoking or indeed resplendent in its planting scheme, Westbury is a big fan of the Lemon Tree Trust Garden, designed by Tom Massey and inspired by his time at a refugee camp in Northern Iraq. The planting was designed to bring order to chaos and a haven for communities in turmoil.
Chris Beardshaw stole the show however, with the Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC, which has been awarded the gold medal for Best Show Garden. The fronds of ferns cover the initial direction of a winding path as it traverses the uncertainty of shady woodland; once it turns a corner the pathway leads out to more open and ordered space, reflecting the personal journey that so often takes place within children who use the NSPCC service.
In each instance, we see the focal point of a garden room surrounded by considered and sensory planting schemes, wide doorways to maximise the flow of light and visual connection with the outside space. The materials used for the garden rooms also endeavour to ensure there is a harmony between the man-made and the natural.