Returning favourites and debut designers for Chelsea 2018

Sandy Felton takes a look at the line-up for RHS Chelsea 2018, with gardens inspired by tradition, romance, environmental challenges and Indian cricket.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the highlights for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 (22nd to 27th May) sponsored by M&G Investments. The line-up has a mix of returning favourites and debut designers and a new category in the shape of Space to Grow gardens.

RHS Chelsea 2018 will see more gardens designed by women – of the 26 gardens announced, twelve will be designed by women – and although men still dominate on Main Avenue, hopefully this is a sign of the tide turning after a sustained effort to encourage more women designers by the RHS.

For the first time on Friday 25th May, Ranelagh Gardens will remain open to the public until late for an evening of live music and entertainment.

Ten Show Gardens will fill Main Avenue where a mix of tradition and romance will contrast with contemporary urban design.

(pictured above) -The M&G Garden

Show favourite, Jo Thompson will be back with ‘The Wedgwood Garden‘ and last year’s People’s Choice winner Chris Beardshaw will once again unite with Morgan Stanley with a garden celebrating the company’s partnership with the NSPCC (pictured banner above). Sarah Price is designing ‘The M&G Garden‘ which promises a romanticised haven set in a warm, sunny climate and the Show will once again see the return of ‘The Welcome to Yorkshire‘ team, under designer Mark Gregory, with a Show Garden inspired by the iconic Dales.

The Welcome to Yorkshire Garden

Savills and David Harber have joined together for ‘The David Harber and Savills Garden‘, designed by Nic Howard, aimed at provoking a reflection on humankind’s interaction with their environment over time. Another garden to watch out for will be Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins who return with the ‘Wuhan Water Garden‘, aimed at telling the compelling story about ancient water management with a contemporary environmental message.

The popular Artisan Gardens will once again include favourite multi gold medal winning designer Kazuyuki Ishihara, who is creating a garden inspired by ‘O-mo-te-na-shi no NIWA‘ – a Japanese concept of hospitality. Sarah Eberle returns to design both an Artisan Garden and the Hillier exhibit in the Great Pavilion, for the third year running. This year she is working with British Council India with an Artisan garden celebrating India’s love of cricket. Paul Hervey-Brookes returns to Chelsea after a four-year absence, to design a garden depicting the importance of wellbeing in the Nordic way of life for Viking Cruises. Kate Saville and Tamara Bridge team up for a garden inspired by the Warner Edwards Distillery, reflecting the surrounding landscape of its home, Falls Farm, Northamptonshire.

The new category at Chelsea 2018 will be the Space to Grow Gardens – seven gardens with inspiration for all and take home ideas – replacing the former Fresh Garden category. Dr Catherine McDonald will celebrate the humble pea with ‘The Seedlip Garden‘ in the new category, while Kate Gould will design the ‘West End Secret Garden‘, a modern interpretation of the gardens and architecture of a London square.

Debut designers include Tom Massey who presents ‘The Lemon Tree Trust Garden‘, a Show Garden emulating a garden used by a community of refugees displaced in Domiz Camp, Northern Iraq. Jonathan Snow debuts with a garden inspired by a South African Wine Estate sponsored by Trailfinders. Another first timer and former RHS Young Designer Tony Woods uses sculpture, materials and plants in the environmentally conscious ‘Urban Flow‘ garden with colourful planting to demonstrate how best to utilise green spaces.

Designer Sarah Eberle on the Hillier 2017 exhibit

In the Great Pavilion, over 90 exhibits from the world’s best nurseries will once again prove a plant lover’s paradise, with a floral feast served up by NAFAS depicting the four seasons and one of Chelsea’s most successful exhibitors, Hillier Nurseries – working for the third year with Sarah Eberle – with a walk through garden made up of smaller areas for take home inspiration.

Show Manager Katherine Potsides says: “We’re very excited about RHS Chelsea 2018. Every year is different as we welcome some of the greatest designers, plants people and floral artists who bring their creativity, ideas and inspiration to the show and set the horticultural trends for the year ahead.”

Look out for further details on each garden and designer in our ongoing Chelsea 2018 coverage.

Picture credits: banner ©Chris Beardshaw/Morgan Stanley; M&G Garden ©Kallaway; Sarah Eberle ©Hillier; Welcome to Yorkshire garden ©Mark Gregory, Welcome to Yorkshire.