This year’s long, cool spring may have proved an added demand, but we’ve certainly enjoyed the challenge of raising thousands of herbaceous plants for several of the main Show Gardens at this year’s Chelsea.
Following his triumph at last year’s Show, Cleve West’s 2012 garden for Brewin Dolphin, includes beech hedging and yew topiary forms, under-planted with swathes of Hortus Loci herbaceous plants and Orchard Dene annuals. The colour palette combines whites, lime greens and yellows with splashes of red and purple to provide visual contrast. Nearly all the herbaceous plants were grown at our nursery in Hampshire, while some of the larger specimens were sourced from specialist growers both in the UK and in Europe.
The problem with many Show Gardens is that much of the best planting is hidden when viewed from the outside. However, Joe Swift has cleverly overcome this in his Hombase Cancer Trust garden, with every nook and cranny in clear line of sight. His design makes the most of the rectangular plot, too, using angled parallel cedar-wood frames that guide the eye to the furthest corner of the garden when viewed from the front, yet neatly divide the plot into separate rooms when viewed from the side. The varied planting includes beautiful multi-stemmed Cornus mas and Prunus ‘Amber Beauty’ chosen for their visual impact and texture under-planted with swathes of perennials, including euphorbias, Verbascum ‘Petra’, libertia and Iris ‘Langport Wren’.
Thomas Hoblyn offers a different solution in his Italian Renaissance-inspired garden for Arthritis Research UK. Once again, the eye-catching plant combinations are shown off to best effect, this time in a series of raised beds around a sunken water feature. The planting is decidedly Mediterranean, with specimens sourced from Spain and Italy supplemented by herbaceous perennials grown on the Hortus Loci nursery. Traditional Mediterranean colours of silver and green foliage plants are dotted with orange-red poppies and nasturtiums, along with ribbons of burgundy fritillaria. The planting in Andy Stugeon’s M&G garden certainly caught Alan Titchmarsh’s eye when he was filming there for the BBC. Inspired by the arts and crafts movement, the garden’s strong asymmetrical design features natural rustic materials including copper, oak and Purbeck stone around a large central water future all interwoven with herbaceous from Hortus Loci. Katsura cercidiphyllum trees provide height and shade for the woodland-inspired herbaceous planting underneath highlighted by a soft blend of pink, white, yellow and lilac flowers. In the Artisan section of the show, another Italian-inspired design has been put together using our plants. Designed by Ruth Willmott and Frederick Whyte (pictured), The APCO garden combines evergreen structural forms with a calming palette of ornamental plants surrounding a seating area. Orange geums, dwarf digitalis and cream-flowered iris look-alike Roscoea humeana all feature.