How to grow The Wrap Up: Chelsea Flower Show 2013

The Wrap Up: Chelsea Flower Show 2013

Photo - Linda Ross


As Linda packs her bag for Chelsea 2014 she reflects on what has kept her humming with inspiration all year from Chelsea 2013.

The win

I turn into a cheering patriot whenever we beat the Brits, be it cricket or garden design, so the Best in Show win for Phillip Johnson’s Australian Garden got my heart beating faster. I just loved the garden, with its imaginative use of native plants, innovative waratah studio, billabong and 300 tonnes of Scottish rock. The waratah studio, designed by Studio 505, was especially impressive. It was crafted from asymmetrical, laser-cut ‘petals’ made from reclaimed timber. These created striking, dappled light effects inside the studio. The studio offered 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape through louvered windows and sections of clear flooring, and gave a sense of how such a structure links house and garden. (Even the Queen managed the circular stairs to the vantage point!)



You don’t want to leave Chelsea empty-handed and there are plenty of suitcase-sized items to choose from. My usual favourites: gardening boots from Dubarry; hand tools from Sneeboar; twine from Burgon and Ball; and pretty plant labels from Nutscene. Inside the pavilion a tidal wave of sweet peas pulled me like a rip and I decided I would purchase some deep purple varieties from Eagle Sweet Peas. I chose the highly perfumed Mixed Spencer. I was assured I can collect seeds from it every year, so that I will always have a souvenir of the 100th Chelsea flower show growing in my garden. When buying seeds at Chelsea (or anywhere else) ensure that the seed packet is correctly labelled with the botanic name of the plant, not just the common name. Declare it to Customs and you should have no problems.



Photo - Linda Ross


London’s very late spring meant that the perennials usually relied upon at Chelsea to provide the jawdropping displays of colour were few and far between. (David Austin Roses was forced to use a glasshouse to bloom its roses in the lead-up to the show!) The result of the late spring was that shrubs were trucked in to provide structure and colour gardens that would otherwise have been bare: rhododendrons, lavender, buxus, maples and dogwood all made a change to the usual froth and bubble of wildflower meadows. It was done particularly well by Roger Platts in the M&G Investments Garden, reminding us all of the value of shrubs in the garden.



Photo - Linda Ross

Fired fence

UK Garden designer Christopher Bradley-Hole made headlines when he criticised both the judges and the judging process at Chelsea 2013. His complaint that the judges didn’t ‘get’ his garden sounded a lot like sour grapes. This is his garden, and though the tabletops of clipped box didn’t do much for me I was a huge fan of that fire-blackened fence.



Photo - Linda Ross



This stunning screen was made by Melbourne sculptors, Lump Sculpture Studio for the Australian Garden. The design, based on the ‘ringed’ appearance of the cross-section of a tree trunk, was laser cut into corten steel and made the risers on the spiral staircase leading to the waratah studio. When viewed from above, the risers were visually linked to form the tree’s rings. The pattern was replicated in these screens at the back of the garden.


Photo - Linda Ross



Text: Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross