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Chelsea Flower Show 2014: Best in Show

Catherine Stewart

Catherine Stewart

May 21, 2014


The Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show is (drum roll….) – the Laurent-Perrier garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei. It looks like a safe and very pleasant choice.

The judges liked the way it “plays with texture, light and form, with a cool, contemplative design”. The square, central pond is fed by two narrow rills, there are several mounds of clipped beech, surrounding walls of polished concrete and yew, two perennial beds with iris, rodgersia, trollius, baptisia and lupins and a sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard made from layers of cedar, positioned under a somewhat contorted amelanchier.

Maybe this garden has a lot more interesting detail than I can see in the photos but it reinforces the comments made by others that the main show gardens are almost universally safe and pleasant these days, with the Artisans gardens providing a little more daring-do and even the trade display gardens showing more lively innovation.

Garden at Chaumont sur Loire 2003, complete with thousands of spoons. Photo by Natman

Garden at Chaumont sur Loire 2003, complete with thousands of spoons. Photo by Natman

I hear that Chelsea Flower Show organisers are considering allowing artists and artisans to submit designs for 2015, which I’d say is a very good idea. I doubt we’ll see anything like the excitement of the International Garden Festivals at Château de Chaumont in France and Jardins de Métis in Québec but it would be a breath of fresh air.

That said, realistically so much of what’s possible for a designer comes down to sponsorship money. Will sponsors be prepared to stump up thousands of pounds for gardens that shock or challenge? You could argue that any publicity is good publicity and that getting a crazy, ‘out-there’ garden on the front page of a newspaper is a good way to break gardening out of the hobbyist mould into which mainstream press pours it. But if you’re representing a charity or a life assurance company wanting to generate donations or business, then scaring the horses may not be in your brief.

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