Chelsea Flower Show 2022

24 October 2022
Chelsea Flower Show 2022

Gilles Lardy's European Garden Tour 2022 Part 2

Bulb display in the gig tent with Lilium, Scadoxus, Allium and Nerine cv.

After having been cancelled in 2020 and postponed to an odd virtual autumn show in 2021, the 2022 edition of the Chelsea Flower Show was awaited with great expectation.

Unarguably one of the most famous horticultural events in the world, the show draws huge crowds, and it is essential to book your tickets as early as possible.

The grounds are organised around three main areas of focus: the outdoor display gardens, the outdoor retail areas (garden furniture, art, tools, and paraphernalia) and the huge central tent which houses the nursery displays.

Blame it on Covid, on the fewer number of overseas participants, or on this year's theme, "Wild", which drew all designs to a similar "meadow meet food forest" vibe, but I wasn't as wowed by the display gardens as I was during my previous visits. As far as landscape design and execution are concerned, a standout for me was the arched crevice garden designed by Sarah Eberle, which is something I had never seen before and really impressed me.

Chelsea - Pic 1

'Building the Future', an impressive garden by Sarah Eberle featuring an arched crevice garden and tortuous conifers.

Just like fashion the horticultural world has its trends, and this year was no different with a few plants heavily featured in the plantings: Rosa glauca, Valeriana officinalis and the very desirable Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', which sadly is not available here in Australia.

Chelsea - Pic 2

The 'Meta garden', highlighting the macro and microscopic networks in nature

But my favourite part of the visit has been, as always, the big tent with the best and finest plants British nurseries have to offer. Nowhere else can you see such a broad selection of plants and cultivars. The displays go from mixed plantings by type of plant or habitat, to tightly and neatly organised specialised flower displays. While the latter may seem a bit old fashioned, it provides the rare opportunity to see dozens of cultivars next to each other, allowing visitors to better appreciate their different traits and qualities. 

Chelsea - Pic 3Cirsium rivulare var atropurpureum (purple flower at the front)

Cirsium rivulare var atropurpureum (purple flower at the front)

The beautiful rose displays by David Austin, Harkness Roses and Peter Beales always attract big crowds, so does Raymond Evison's Clematis display or Blackmore & Langdon's perfect line-up of Delphiniums and Begonias. As far as I am concerned the highlight was Kevock Garden's exquisite display of alpine plants, which I probably went to see four or five times during the day.

Chelsea - Pic 6

The Harkness Roses display

Chelsea - Pic 7

Kevock Garden alpine plants display (Meconopsis, Celmisia, Incarvillea, Primula, Zaluzianskya, Lewisia

All in all I had an awesome day if not for the price of the ticket, which I think at 95£ for the day (RHS discount) is not really set to attract a wider and younger audience to the show…

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