The Chelsea Flower Show, reflecting the spirit of the times, has ditched the extravagant showmanship of gardens in previous years for themes that are much more focussed on our natural environment, on sustainability and on wellbeing, with a sub-theme linked to plants from hot climates – Dubai, South America and Africa – perhaps in anticipation of London gardeners needing to anticipate climate change.
Inspirational are the gardens organised by charities who support employment and change through their activities, for example the Greenfingers Charity Garden designed for children whose lives are drawing to a close, along with their families, and the CAMFED garden which draws attention to how the charity supports women and girls in Zimbabwe to complete their education and to develop new careers and new ambitions through the inspiration of landscape gardening.
Natural landscapes were very much to the fore with, for example, the Resilience Garden designed by Sarah Eberle for the William Robinson Gravetye Charity, as an example of how landscapes have to adapt to threats from climate change, disease and pests, the M&G Garden designed by Andy Sturgeon showing the power of nature to reclaim and re-landscape environments ravaged by war or other disasters, and the Yorkshire Garden designed by Mark Gregory celebrating the history of Yorkshire’s industrial heritage
Looking to the future, and slightly spooky, is Tom Dixon’s and IKEA’s collaboration ‘Save the World’ to grow food in new and different environments, with plants being grown in laboratory conditions in urban settings, thus eliminating the carbon caused through long-distance ships, trains, lorries and vans transporting food around the world… We know that this is already happening in old disused underground tunnels only a few miles away from Chelsea…
‘Gardening is unique in its universal appeal and its transformational power. Without plants and more planting, we are all in trouble.’ (Tom Dixon). A challenge for this project is how to being the benefits of gardening to urban environments from as 1970′s housing estates and modern tower blocks where sadly, the benefits of green space have all too often been forgotten.
Also on show, just before the commemorations on 6th June, was the D-Day Garden, designed by John Everiss, incorporating scultpures of old veterans and of them as young men taking part on D-Day, which will carefully dismantled and relocated to Arromanches as a gift from the veterans to the French village.