Now that Chelsea fever has died down a bit, we thought we'd look back over the planting for a little inspiration. Similar trends can be seen through different gardens and planting styles. Golds were big this year. Verbascum, Iris, geum, lupin, golden grasses and flowering shrubs all shone out in rich warm brown-gold right through to gold-green.
so from laburnums and deciduous azeleas to Japanese painted ferns there was a lot of mellow in structural form on Dan Pearson's best in show garden. I had not been to Chelsea before, and was so lucky that Darren Hawkes (who designed the gold medal winning garden for Brewin Dolphin) asked me to be a part of his planting team this year. So not only did i get to spend five days doing my favourite thing, but i got to work with a great team and snoop on everyone else's plant trolleys. Fab. SO its kind of like a dog show, you get 'best in show' and then awards in different categories and a group of judges in a huddle and then certificates pinned to your garden. Woof.
texture, colour, form, time and space. geological history, ancient trees and new saplings, fluid dancing streams and warm wooden benches and pathways. Gold ran through the place Dan Pearson cleverly created here. From dappled sunlight on stone to fragile translucent petals, the soft gold underside of oak leaved hydrangeas and dainty seed heads of umbelifers we can take on some ideas about using golds, about using colour and form, about making things with concern for its surroundings, of how it will interact with the things and the people it comes into contact with.
its nice to see some kind of continuum with what we do. seasonal flowers both cultivated and wild, we edit and select rather than impose a formula or pattern which means our flowers are never, ever the same, even if we wanted to we couldn't exactly repeat an artrangement. for us the beauty of plants, flowers and their surroundings in in their own specific character, the way they change with seasons, how structure dominates in winter and texture in early summer roses, how colours are so much richer in autumn because of the light as much as the warm robust colours. this is the joy of what we do and i think i could see that energy and respect for nature (I sound like my dad - sorry dad ;-) ) seeping into the gardens here. in such a commercial urban environment the dignity of purpose and respect for a garden as a 'place' won out. it seems there is less space for the shallow all-for-show fluffed up poodle and more weight given to how a place feels, for plants which tell their own stories and relate to their neighbours in so many different ways. It was Darren Hawkes garden which got me started in thinking about the different ways in which people relate to gardens, about how places are so bound up with our memories and sense of who we are, about how material culture, landscape, place, plants, echoes different stories about different lives. Dan Pearson does it with gold.
we (becca and I) tend to always pick plants that make good companions, and flower at the same time, (we grow organically and use plants which want to be there). If you are aware of the ways a plant behaves and pick plants which flower simultaneously you really can't go wrong. flowers which grow together just look right. the way a fern curls out of a crevice in a rock and creates a beautifully s-shaped curve even hogarth would have been proud of, or the lace-like nibbles in a birch leaf which do not tell stories of chemically managed ordered mass production but of a life lived, they echo interactions and cycles of growth. this is where beauty lies for us.
Anyway, what i'm trying to say is Dan Pearson's garden uses gold in a beautifully aesthetic way, but also links its aesthetic to its provenance and its future, its biography I suppose?
The pure land foundation by Fernando Gonzalez designed its planting based in the colours used in Buddhist ritual and art. this garden in the 'fresh gardens' category uses similar colours. So Fernando Gonzalez draws a more obvious link between meaning and colour which nicely winks sideways at Dan Pearson's garden. It is so much smaller, and perhaps easier to focus on the plants in the bustle which is the Chelsea Flower Show. Geums, iris and foxgloves tone with bronze fennel and wavy gold grasses. I thought the plants here were so lovely.
Lots of gardens used geums and vebascums, iris and bronze foliage. Sean Murray who won the BBC competition uses these gold colours but takes them into full-bodied wine colours with physocarpus, angelica and astrantia in deep red. Whilst Chris Beardshaw made use of a clash of geum with aquelegia and salvia in royal purples. Go Chris! I could have looked at his field maple for hours, such great trees you don't often see beyond the hedgerow down here in cornwall.
Becca and I have had a little obsession with gold for a while now and have planted iris in browns, muddy pinks and golds, ranunculus in chocolate and caramel colours, and planted foliage to use as a foil to rich colours. lucky for us our labrador brown iris have just started to flower, and our sweet geums in yellow, orange and pink have all reached their peak so i took the opportunity to try a little gold out here...
I also have another post up my sleeve about Jo Thompson’s M&G garden. Its all about the silver. Fabulous roses and scented wisteria. This is the garden I’d most like to take home. And also another one about the Brewin Dolphin Garden by our friend Darren Hawkes. Really beautiful hedgerow flowers, shrubs and a few cultivars thrown in too. Self-seeding annuals and a froth of umbels. Ideas about planting communities and arranging flowers with reference to the places they grow, from shady woodland glens to sunny country lanes. Watch this space over the next few weeks for ideas about planting for picking. And whilst we are on the subject we hosting a workshop at Duchy Nursery, Lostwithiel on the 25th June about just that. Planning a cutting border using flowers that look good inside and out. Growing with the colour, period and atmosphere of your home in mind so your home extends into your garden and your garden looks great, not only in a jug but out of the sitting room window too!