11 acres, 550 exhibitors, 157,000 yearly visitors, and millions of television viewers are just a few figures associated with the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Since its launch in 1913, people from all over the world have visited this event to enjoy inspiring horticultural scenery and insightful designs. So, what were this year’s stand-out exhibits and most memorable trends?
At Fulton Umbrellas, we’ve long admired the ingenuity and effort that goes into creating each RHS Chelsea Flower Show — and here, we’ve explored the top trends and highlights from 2018’s event…
Space to Grow
This year, a new environment was brought to the show: Space to Grow. Within this area, visitors of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show could amble through the area, take a seat and relax, and discover more about effective planting options that people can taker inspiration from when carrying out their own gardening at home.
The introduction of Space to Grow helped drive the growing trend at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show for utilising every inch of our gardens and making the most of our outdoor spaces.
This year’s event saw the debut of Tom Massey, a designer from west London. Massey attracted much attention for his Lemon Tree Trust Garden, which symbolised the plight endured by refugees and those facing persecution in their home countries.
Massey’s outdoor design was a major influence in this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, which had a recurring theme of highlighting political, social and health issues. According to Massey, the Syrian refugees he visited at their camps earlier in 2018 displayed a keen interest in gardening — creating makeshift green spaces to grow and tend. He said: “We wanted to elevate the discussion around refugees and show they are more than the pain and hardship that they have seen.”
A win for the NSPCC
The victory of The Morgan Stanley Garden for the NSPCC was met with great admiration this year. It is the first time that designer, Chris Beardshaw, has won Best Show Garden and — similar to Tom Massey’s design — this outdoor space wonderfully emphasised how change is possible even in adverse situations.
Beardshaw’s creation was intended to highlight the positive work that the NSPCC carries out.
Spearheaded by Tom Stuart-Smith — who has received Best in Show three times — caring for the environment was a major, recurring theme at the 2018 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Making his garden solely from recycled materials, Stuart-Smith demonstrated the importance of maintaining ethical processes and using eco-friendly products when gardening or working with the environment.
Apart from the environment, mental and physical health played an influential role at this year’s event. But where was this theme highlighted the most? A collaboration between the NHS and Matt Keighley — the RHS Feel Good Garden — was designed with an aim to show how gardening can create a feeling of happiness and productivity, encouraging people to feel engaged with their surroundings and stimulate the mind.
Monty Don, renowned broadcaster and gardener who was involved in the project, commented: “I know from personal experience how gardening helps heal many mental and physical ills. When you are sad, a garden comforts. When you are humiliated or defeated, a garden consoles. When you are consumed by anxiety, it will soothe you, and when the world is a dark and bleak place it shines a light to guide you on.”
Although a traditional event, RHS Chelsea Flower Show is innovative, progressive and perceptive; bringing to the forefront trends and concerns that sometimes we forget even exist in our society. Another excellent display of foresight and from this year’s event came from Kate Gould, who produced a landscape that paid homage to 21st century London — namely, Chelsea. It featured eco-friendly technology — again, highlighting the importance of caring for our surroundings despite technological advances — to create a positive vision of how modern business and British culture can exist harmoniously.
The royal wedding
Not long ago, we wrote a blog about the wedding of the now Duke of Sussex to the formerly-known, Meghan Markle. And, it appears that this event was also an important moment in history for designers at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The notion of a springtime wedding was apparent in the decorative floral thrones and blooming arbours. At A Royal Celebration by Hillier, visitors enjoyed a show of royal-themed purple flowers blended with bridal white plants to mark the royal wedding. In fact, the Hydrangea Runaway Bride ‘Snow White’ was even named Plant of the Year!