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Missing Chelsea

It’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show Press Day, or would have been, which usually sees me waking up at 4am for early access to photograph the show gardens. Instead this year I woke up at 4.30am panicking I was late, my Chelsea body clock is still there, today there was a beautiful sunrise, still, sunny and the air filled with bird song, just like Chelsea last year. The Andy Sturgeon garden for M&G, won Best in Show & Gold Medal.

The garden was one I kept going back to, it felt very calming and contemplative amongst all the busyness at Chelsea.

Being a Yorkshire lad, the Welcome to Yorkshire garden by Mark Gregory was a must see, it really looked like it had been there since the time the canal lock was built, a great feat of engineering and planting.

As a garden photographer having early access to the show gives you time to really look around and see the gardens that resonate with you, even if they didn’t get the coveted Chelsea Gold. There was something about the David Neale – Silent Pool Gin garden that I really liked. This garden showed that stark concrete environments can be softened by plants, a water feature and thought out garden design.

Green really was the colour last year, with bold use in The Greenfingers Charity Garden. designed by Kate Gould, which also used soft pastel tones in the planting which were very calming.  The garden was designed to resemble one of their hospice gardens and be restful, uplifting and interactive, a place of play, relaxation and peaceful contemplation.

It was great to see the The Green Switch Garden designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara another garden of contemplation and everything Zen, the joy on Kazayuki’s face when he won another Chelsea gold was lovely to witness.

Rusted metalic colours were also evident last year, I really liked the digger bucket turned in to a lily pond on the The Walker’s Forgotten Quarry Garden, designed by Graham Bodle.

Photographer: Stephen Studd - The Walker's Forgotten Quarry Gard

Also the banana leaf on the CAMFED Garden Giving Girls in Africa a Space to Grow, designed by Jilayne Rickards.

Photographer: Stephen Studd - The CAMFED Garden Giving Girls in

The copper chair on the Silent Pool Gin garden

Photographer: Stephen Studd - The Silent Pool Gin Garden – con

The High Maintenance Garden designed by Sue Hayward had repurposed galvanised metal tanks and old metal railings with trailing roses.

The Resilience Garden designed by Sarah Eberle with the old silo, addressed the challenges posed by climate change and the pests and diseases that threaten forests today and in the future.

Chris Beardshaw’s  Morgan Stanley garden looked at how to create sustainable gardens through materials sourced and also in the constructing of them. It was another garden that felt peaceful and relaxing.

The RHS Back to Nature Garden, designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge with Andree Davies and Adam White was a fun space for children, with dens tree houses and water, big ideas packed in to a small space. Who wouldn’t like to be in the tree house and have a go on the rope swing?

Another garden for children was the Montessori Centenary Children’s Garden designed by Jody Lidgard which had to win the ‘in your face with colour’ award. It was packed with great ideas about growing food, including this edible living wall.

Finally last years Chelsea paid tribute to the 75th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day Landings in Normandy with a commemorative D Day 75 garden designed by John Everiss, set against the Royal Hospice. It was a very strong emotive and moving space, especially with the metal sculptures set in slate and the 10,000  ‘Sea Thrift’ which the troops would have seen on the beaches as they landed.

There might not be a live RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, but there is a Virtual Chelsea, starting with Members Day today and continuing each day until May 23rd you can find out what’s on by following this link RHS Virtual Chelsea

I will be posting some of my favourite Chelsea gardens and plants this week on my social media accounts and also on another blog post on Wednesday.

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Kinetic Musical Troughs and Colour – a glance back at RHS Chelsea 2017.

Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  Beneath A Mexican Sky garden,Taking my first peek at the show last year on the Sunday before press day,  Manoj Malde’s ‘Beneath a Mexican Sky’ garden stopped me in my tracks with it’s in your face bold use of colour. Having spent some time in Mexico myself I know that Mexicans are not shy of using colour.

Manoj’s garden had a quiet, relaxed feeling to it and had one of my favourite plants Agave Americana, showing the blue green colours against the orange wall and turquoise water feature.

Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  Beneath A Mexican Sky garden,

Walking around taking in the show gardens I noticed that there seemed to be a predominant colour palette of reds, oranges and yellows coming through, as seen here in Charlotte Harris’s RBC Garden with planting of Aquilegia canadensis with Zizia aurea.Photographer: Stephen Studd, The Royal Bank of Canada Garden,  D

The Hagakure Hidden Leaves garden designed by Shuko Noda was framed in red, picturing another tranquil, peaceful and calming space._MG_8459

As a professional garden photographer at Chelsea, I know that one of the hardest spots for a garden designer to fill is the one that Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins ‘The Silk Road’ garden filled dramatically and really showcased the colour scheme of yellows, reds and oranges in such a large scale._MG_8674The Viking Cruises ‘Garden of Inspiration’ by Sarah Eberle had bright vivid mosaics and of course the orange tree to take you straight to the Med._MG_8464The Breast Cancer Now Garden: Through the Microscope designed by Ruth Willmott_MG_8611used the colour palette of oranges, reds and yellows to great effect._MG_8613

A new feature at the show in 2017 were the BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens, which were designed to uplift the senses and encourage people to lose themselves in the sights, scents, sounds, flavours and textures.

The Zoe Ball Listening Garden, designed by Skipper of the light fandango, James Alexander-Sinclair was another show stopper with the kinetic musical troughs. They were mesmerizing, just watching the sound waves ripple on the water and seeing what patterns they produced _MG_8504with the occasional splash from deep bass sound, a novel idea well executed._MG_8507The Anneka Rice ‘Colour Cutting’ garden designed by Sarah Raven was a colourful garden which had a lovely retro, nostalgic feel to it._MG_8731

The garden was a riot of colour which was blended together with great talent._MG_9075

As an allotment holder, the Chris Evans ‘Taste Garden’ designed by Jon Wheatley, reminded me of visits as a young child to my Uncle Harry’s garden in Ipswich, whilst giving me allotment envy.Photographer: Stephen Studd - The BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Taste Garden garden, from right to left: Cabbage 'Red Jewel, Kale 'Reflex' Kale 'Redbor', lettuce 'Red Iceberg', Leek 'Cumbria', with nasturtium 'Tall mixed', sweetcorn 'Sundance', runner bean 'StThe vegetable garden also reflected the warm colours of reds and bronzes.Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  The BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Taste Garden garden, Lettuce from right to left, 'Red Iceberg', 'Nymans', 'Lettony', Designer: Jon Wheatley

The Jeremy Vine ‘Texture Garden’ designed by Matt Keightley had so many great design ideas packed in to a small space, wow what a wall that was and great use of oversized irregular-shaped paving stones that created a feeling of space.Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  The BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, Stone path over pond, concrete wall inlaid with moss balls, Acer Griseum, Euphorbia 'Fens Ruby',  Euphorbia 'Whistleberry Garnet',  Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', Stipa tenuiMatt’s sumptuous planting truly showcased beautiful flower, grass and conifer plant combinations alike.

Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  The BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, Acer Griseum, Prunus serrula, Iris germanica 'Kent Pride', Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', Pinus mugo 'Mughus', Pinus mugo 'Pumilio', Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis x acutifl
Prunus serrula, Iris germanica ‘Kent Pride’, Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Pinus mugo ‘Mughus’ & ‘Pumilio’, Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’, Calamagrostis brachytricha, Melica altissima ‘Alba’, Pimpinella major ‘Rosea’, Foeniculum vulgare ‘Giant Bronze’

His garden really stood out with the combination of textures in it and coppery red tones with the grasses catching the sunlight transforming their colours whilst waving gently in the wind.Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  The BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, Verbascum 'Firedance', Iris germanica 'Kent Pride', Stipa tenuissima, Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', Calamagrostis brachytricha, M

Copper was used to great effect in Charlotte Harriss’s garden with the patinated copper pavilion._MG_8744

The sunrise light on the Breaking Ground garden, designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam had a striking copper wall and Stipa gigantean and other grasses again absorbing the warm morning light.Photographer: Stephen Studd - The Breaking Ground Garden, Sunrise over the garden, Stipa gigantica, Melica altissima 'Alba', Salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna', Salvia greggii 'Nachtvlinder', Verbascum phoeniculum 'Violetta', Pimpinella major 'Rosea', Designer:

Finally the RHS ‘Greening Grey Britain‘ garden designed by Professor Nigel Dunnett was brimming full of take away ideas. The living roof over the wheelie bins, growing herbs and edibles was a great idea, even down to the wooden legs with drilled holes for solitary insects._MG_9143-EditThe very contemporary urban garden showcased the principles of sustainable rainwater management, with naturalistic informal planting set against the strong shapes and forms of the paths and hard surfaces. Greening Grey Britain Garden Nigel Dunnett RHS Chelsea Flower ShThe RHS ‘Greening Grey Britain‘ campaign is addressing the fact that we are paving over the UK, which is harmful to wildlife and is damaging to the nation’s health, whilst putting homes at more risk from flooding. Working with communities to transform neglected spaces into beautiful ones, researching about plants that can make the most difference to the environment and showcasing inspirational gardening at their shows and gardens. These spaces at the shows are always inspirational as they are achievable in our own spaces, no matter how small they are, helping everyonewith ideas to “get Greening Grey Britain, one plant at a time.”  _MG_8436

With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 countdown on, I look forward to seeing the new trends in garden design at the show this year.Photographer: Stephen Studd  -  The BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Texture Garden, sun reflected in small pond, Verbascum 'Firedance', Pinus mugo, Stipa tenuissima, Calamagrostis x acutiflora 'Karl Foerster', Calamagrostis brachytricha, Melica altissima 'Alba'

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