The Guangzhou Garden at Chelsea

A show garden at the 2021 RHS Chelsea Flower Show will highlight how cities of the future must be considered as landscape cities.

The Guangzhou Garden: Guangzhou China‘ designed by Peter Chmiel with Chin-Jung Chen, of world renowned landscape architects Grant Associates, pays homage to Guangzhou’s philosophy which gives equal consideration to the needs of people and wildlife thorough sustainable city planning strategies.

Sponsored by the Administration of Forestry and Gardening of Guangzhou Municipality, China, the garden is set to be the award-winning landscape architects first show garden for Chelsea Flower show. The original garden concept was scheduled to be at the 2020 RHS Chelsea Flower Show before the pandemic led to its cancellation. The current design has been subtly adapted to best showcase the planting species and aquatic designs at this time in the year.

Known as the ‘city between mountain and water’, Guangzhou’s approach to environmental planning is based on the concept of ‘ecological civilisation’. The city’s distinct environmental plant divides it into three zones: social green space for people within the business district (heart); protected green spaces to the north (lungs); and protected aquatic areas to the south (kidneys).

In the heart area there will be five structures made of laminated moso bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis) a fast growing, sustainably sourced bamboo. In the kidney area we see wetlands planted with aquatic plants to improve water quality, including water forget-me-not and scouring rush. In the lungs area of the design, characterful trees (dawn redwood, scots pine and birch) feature, creating a woodland dell.

The designers point out that September is a good time for aquatic displays and they are using the autumn event as an opportunity to showcase the extensive and exotic wetland cleansing areas using a serene display of water lilies.

Chin-Jung Chen (left) points out that they have been working on the design for the last two years and that the three garden zones will all be visually united by an elegant, graceful driving wave of green foliage including airy frothy perennials in soft shades of white and subtle hints of blue and yellow.

For Peter and Chin-Jung, working on the design has been an exciting creative challenge as they look to capture the essence of vast and vibrant Guangzhou with a population of 15 million people and distil this down into a garden plot of just 20mx10!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 is a terrific opportunity for us to reach a bigger audience with the important message that we need to think about our future cities as landscape cities that enable people and nature to come closely together,” says Peter (pictured right). “We hope visitors will leave the ‘Guangzhou Garden’ feeling uplifted and inspired about the possibilities for the future.”

The garden is being created in collaboration with garden design consultancy The Outdoor Room and nursery Kelways Plants. The prominent bamboo structures are being developed in partnership with Charlie Brentnall and Martin Self of Xylotek.

All images ©Grant Associates