RHS Chelsea – Small spaces, big ideas

The Still Garden, ©Reckless Gardener

Sandy Felton takes a look at some of the Balcony and Container gardens at the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

The Balcony and Container Gardens have become a popular category at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and it’s a good move on behalf of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to make them a permanent feature. Nine garden designers, mentored by designer Paul Hervey-Brookes, created schemes for urban living and judging by their popularity with show visitors, they were certainly the basis for a lot of inspiration and ideas.

The All About Plants gardens in the Great Pavilion also attracted a lot of interest, providing plenty of inspiration for the positive power of plants on humans and the planet. Below, are just a few of our favourites.

The Best in Category (Container and Balcony Gardens) was awarded to ‘The Still Garden’ (Gold) designed by Jane Porter. (Image banner above). Inspired by the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. the garden uses reclaimed whisky casks reconstructed to make sculptural planters. The dramatic backdrop to this garden – a slate wall rescued from a disused quarry in Perthshire – was set vertically like the sea walls of the western isles and was constructed to resemble a glen between two mountains. A really attractive and inspirational garden and definitely my favourite.

The Wilderness Garden ©RHS/credit Tim Sandall

The Wilderness Foundation UK Garden’ designed by Charlie Hawkes, (Gold) was awarded best in category in the All About Plants garden category. The garden illustrates meaningful interactions with nature providing opportunity for such places to transform lives and improve mental wellbeing. Very much in tune with the theme throughout the show of how gardens and green spaces, no matter how small, are important for our mental health and wellbeing.

Here are some we liked:

Container gardens

The Enchanted Rain Garden ©Reckless Gardener

The Enchanted Rain Garden‘ (Silver-Gilt) designed by Bea Tann, was inspired by a rainy day in Manchester with a container garden designed to thrive in wet conditions. Really liked the rough stone planters used here and for me the garden certainly evoked the changeable weather in northern cities. The planters were dramatic and used to good effect in the overall design. Hostas, Cornus kousa and Trachelospermum Jasminum featured among a variety of planting.

The Wild Kitchen Garden ©Reckless Gardener

‘The ‘Wild Kitchen Garden‘ designed by Ann Treneman, showed the use of galvanised metal containers for growing a wide variety of produce, perfect for a back garden or city terrace. As I inherited several of these large containers myself recently I was interested in what I could grow in them. Ann uses them for a variety of edible surprises and the design even incorporated a sink at the back of the garden for easy harvesting.

Balcony Gardens:

The Potting Balcony Garden ©Reckless Gardener

The Potting Balcony Garden‘ (Silver-Gilt) sponsored by Viking and designed by William Murray, demonstrated a clever use of space on a balcony, using the limited space for hands-on gardening. Will managed to deftly apportion his space both for gardening and for leisure. A clever design.

The Cirrus Garden ©RHS/credit Tim Sandall

The Cirrus Garden‘ (Silver-Gilt) designed by Jason Williams, was certainly bright and inviting. Combining the spectacle of a show garden and real-life sustainable growing, the garden focused on biodiversity within urban areas providing a peaceful setting – it certainly lifted the mood and amply demonstrated how we can effectively use even the smallest of spaces.

Awards – BC (Balcony and Container) AAP (All About Plants category)
Gold: The Still Garden (B&C); The Wilderness Foundation UK Garden (AAP); the Core Arts Front Garden Revolution (AAP)
Silver-Gilt: It Will Grow (B&C); Cirrus Garden (B&C); Wild Kitchen Garden (B&C); The Enchanted Rain Garden (B&C); A Textile Garden for Fashion Revolution (AAP).
Silver: The Blue Garden (B&C); Mandala, Meditation and Mindfulness Garden (B&C); A Mediterranean Reflection (B&C); The Mothers for Mothers Garden (AAP)
Bronze: Jay Day (B&C)