Thursday, 23 May 2013

What makes a winning garden at RHS Chelsea? Let the people decide!

Trailfinders Australian Garden designed by Phil Johnson won Best in Show and a Gold medal at Chelsea this year 
As RHS Chelsea opened its doors to the public for the third day of the centenary Flower Show, it appeared that all was not well among the horticultural fraternity when Christopher Bradley-Hole, creator of this year's Telegraph Garden, questioned the RHS judges' decision over the coveted Best in Show award presented to the Trailfinders Australian Garden. Readers may wish to read the full article here.  
The Telegraph Garden designed by Christopher Bradley-Hole won a Gold medal, but not Best in Show
The crowds this week at the world's most prestigious horticultural event are a testament to the popularity of the annual Chelsea Show and it will be interesting to see who they vote for in The People's Choice competition, organised by the RHS and actively promoted on its web site. If the queues to see the Trailfinders garden are an indication of public opinion, could it be that the Mr Bradley-Hole's recent comments about the "ugly" solar panels and the "unsubtle" planting are not shared by the hordes of visitors trying to get a close-up view of the Australian garden, which occupies a prime corner position at Chelsea this year.
The East Village Garden, designed by Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius won a gold
Christopher Bradley-Hole is certainly no newcomer to Chelsea and has an impressive track record of five Chelsea gold medals and two Best Show Gardens. The Telegraph Garden won a gold medal this year, so the designer had nothing to complain about. Other seasoned exhibitors and gold medalists included Brewin Dolphin, Homebase, Laurent Perrier, M&G and Royal Bank of Canada - who are all delighted with the results, as are newcomers to the show who won golds, including the East Village Garden (above), which was attracting much bigger crowds than the Telegraph garden opposite and Un Garreg (One Stone) in the Artisan section
The B&Q Sentebale Garden designed by Jinny Blom won a silver gilt medal
Gardens that attracted a lot of publicity before the opening of the show included the B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden (above), with its connection to Prince Harry's Lesotho charity; Stoke-on-Trent's story of Transformation and Stop the Spread (below) - all awarded silver gilt medals. Yet none of these complained about the judging at Chelsea this year! So if you've already been to the show, do let us know which garden you preferred - Trailfinders or The Telegraph.
Stop the Spread, designed by Jo Thompson, won a silver gilt medal


  1. Trailfinders. Reminded me of holidays and good times in Oz. Mr Bradley-Hole may have been making an urbanized pastiche of a country landscape, but I for one preferred the country version of neat hedgerow and waving cow parsley I saw whilst driving to Bath yesterday.

    I had an interesting chat to a garden designer on Monday, she loved the Telegraph garden for the same reasons I hated it. It shows there's no right answer when it comes to judging gardens - whether its the judges themselves or ordinary people like me.

  2. I may never get to the Chelsea garden show so I greatly appreciate your posts on this years gardens. The Australian sculpture in the photo is quite impressive and I am sure it would suit the expansive dry Australian habitats better than the lush green British one.

  3. Thanks for the tour! Wonderful shots!

  4. Very beautiful gardens; I would love to get to Chelsea some time! Jeannine