If you can't make it to the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show — or even if you can — here's our look at some of the most striking things you'll find at the gardens of the Royal Hospital. Pictures by Andrew Sydenham for Country Life.
Chelsea wouldn’t be the celebration of gardening that it is without the medals being handed out, and this year there were some truly wonderful gardens on display.
The spectacular colours of the St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden soared with 1980s retro vibes (I’m sure my sister had that wallpaper in that pattern and colour); and while the ‘MEDITE SMARTPLY Building the Future’ might have had the most ridiculous name of any garden in years, it was incredibly impressive in scale, scope and drama. Truly memorable.
Equally memorable despite its much more modest size was A Garden Sanctuary by Hamptons; not only did it feature a dream garden office-cum-studio of the sort that we all fantasised about during lockdown, they’d brought in some sort of yoga superstar to perform on the platform beside the pond.
The crowd were mesmerised by her skill, grace and — at one point — her ability to prop her entire body up just on her two hands.
For many at the show, however, the most memorable sight in the show gardens was one that was decidedly inorganic: The RAF Benevolent Fund Garden, which feature a truly stunning sculpture of a young pilot looking up to the skies.
Anyway, on with more highlights — and we’ll start with the list of medallists:
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 Gold medallists
- MEDITE SMARTPLY Building the Future
- The RNLI Garden
- Morris & Co.
- The Mind Garden
- A Rewilding Britain Landscape
- The Meta Garden: Growing the Future
- The Place2Be Securing Tomorrow Garden
- Out of the Shadows
- A Garden Sanctuary by Hamptons
- The Boodles Travel Garden
- The Still Garden
All About Plants
- The Core Arts Front Garden Revolution
- The Wilderness Foundation UK Garden
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 Silver-gilt medallists
- The New Blue Peter Garden – Discover Soil
- Hands Off Mangrove by Grow2Know
- Alder Hey Urban Foraging Station
- Connected, by EXANTE
- The Body Shop Garden
- Kingston Maurward The Space Within Garden
- The Plantman’s Ice Garden
- The Cirrus Garden
- The Potting Balcony Garden sponsored by Viking
- The Enchanted Rain Garden
- Wild Kitchen Garden
All About Plants
- A Textile Garden for Fashion Revolution
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 Silver medallists
- The RAF Benevolent Fund Garden
- The St Mungo’s Putting Down Roots Garden
- The Perennial Garden ‘With Love’
- Brewin Dolphin Garden
- The SSAFA Garden, sponsored by CCLA
- The Stitchers’ Garden
- The Blue Garden
- A Mediterranean Reflection
- Mandala, Meditation and Mindfulness Garden
All About Plants
- The Mothers for Mothers Garden – ‘This Too Shall Pass’
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022 Bronze medallists
- A Swiss Sanctuary
- Jay Day
Of course the medallists are only a small part of the experience at Chelsea.
Where would we be, for example, without the driftwood sharks?
Or, for that matter, the Doctor’s Tardis?
While Chelsea is all about the sights, smells and the people — not necessarily in that order — there are occasional musical interludes too, ranging from the classical…
…to the modern…
…to the hybrids of both:
Everywhere you look at Chelsea you’ll see familiar faces, particularly if you nab a Monday ticket… and even more so if you look out for gaggles of photographers shouting ‘Jodie! Jodie! Jodie!’ at household-name models:
That said, while some court publicity happily (you might have spotted Esther Rantzen already?) the A-, B- and C-listers who frequent the grounds of the Royal Hospital are for the most part left well alone by the crowds, able to go about their business.
An example: here is a picture of some lovely giant begonias, which I took while standing next to Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons. I think Jeremy was trying to order some from the man at the stall — how’s that for a celebrity endorsement?
Ahh, yes – flowers! You were probably wondering when we were coming to then. For the flowers are still the main draw in SW3 at this time of year.
One lovely example was the aptly-named ‘Elizabeth’ rose, new for 2022 by David Austin.
Beautiful — as was the entire stand. It makes you realise how much we missed the roses at the autumn show last year.
Just as extraordinary was the stand of orchids:
And at some of the stands, you just didn’t know where to look — such as in this English-country-garden-gone-wild collection of wonders.
What next? How about the people in silly costumes. There weren’t many of them this year, but these two put on a brilliantly lively show. Book them for next year immediately!
The increasing importance of making our own homes and gardens beautiful, comfortable and relaxed is clear to see at the show this year.
Most obvious example was the aforementioned Hamptons sanctuary…
…but there were many other examples.
A real favourite of ours — albeit one overlooked by judges — was the Circle of Life garden, designed by Yoshihiro Tamura as ‘a sanctuary and a place of escape from the digital world, this small garden seeks to represent the cycle of life from beginning to end through different means’.
Truly lovely. Who hasn’t dreamt of their own water-wheel?
Other home sanctuaries were more 21st century. Garden room with pizza oven and wine fridge? Oh yes.
‘Ahh,’ you’re thinking. ‘They forgot the hot tub to complete the WFH renovation bingo card.’
Well, no they didn’t:
This outdoor tub looked like it could seat at least eight people. We unofficially dubbed it the Hugh Hefner model.
Chelsea gets pretty busy at this time of year, so unsurprisingly there were a couple of stranded vehicles on show.
The latter was, of course, a sobering reminder from the Fire Brigade about the dangers of flooding. Good to see a bit of reality popping up at the show here and there.
Yet for the most part, fantasy wins the day in Chelsea week — especially in the floral-table-settings which were a great highlight of the main marquee.
Not much room for plates there, but more practical — if just as fanciful? — was Alitex’s greenhouse-turned-private-members’-club:
Spectacularly well done on this layout — there is an awful lot going on there but somehow it still looks wonderful.
Speaking of ‘looking wonderful’, the Saatchi garden created by Anthony James was a dizzying visual feast.
This beautiful giant apple garden piece was splendid (you might just catch a glimpse of our photographer, Andrew Sydenham, in this one):
And, naturally, David Harber’s garden pieces looked as splendid as ever, in a space which, this year, he shared with Savills.
That about wraps it up, but for one thing: our favourite sights from the shopping ‘street’ (and other corners) that’s are among the other highlights of the show. It’s wonderful seeing RHS Chelsea Flower Show back in Spring for the first time in three year — and if you’re heading along, have a fabulous time.