Chilly Chelsea – Part II

For me, planting is a major contributing element in a garden’s overall success. Effective planting can hide a multitude of design disasters and hard landscaping lash-ups. It goes without saying, therefore, that a meeting of sharp design, perfect planting and luxuriant landscaping provides the perfect mix for an award winning Chelsea show garden.

In my opinion, only a handful of Main Avenue gardens met these criteria this year, with the following gardens selected for attention:

The Arthritis Research UK Garden – Chris Beardshaw

This stunning garden reflects the journey of someone living with arthritis. From the worry, confusion and uncertainty following diagnosis through to living with and managing the pain of the condition. Chris Beardshaw’s own personal experiences of living with arthritis helped him to design and craft a garden which illustrates beautifully the road from diagnosis to pain management.

The garden itself is divided into three emotional and personal experiences:

The Veiled Garden provides the starting point of the garden illustrating the initial feelings of the ‘fog’ of pain and confusion following diagnosis. Following these early emotions, an abundance of knowledge about the condition helps people to understand that a fulfilled life is possible, with The Lucid Garden representing this phase. The final element of the journey, depicted in the exuberant planting of the Radiant Garden, highlights the sense of liberation experienced by those who learn to manage their condition, remain active and enjoy life.

Beardshaw’s design and planting were executed with great sensitivity, driven by an obvious, underlying personal understanding of the condition.

From a viewing perspective, visibility of the garden was somewhat restricted to an opening at the end of the Radiant Garden, which restricted the onlooker somewhat, from delighting at the detail within the Veiled and Lucid gardens.

A strong design, magnificent planting, stunning sculptures and stonework keep Beardshaw at the top of his game.


Author: Mike the Gardener

Freelance gardening writer, consultant and designer. Mike Palmer is a passionate and professional plantsman, offering services in garden writing, consultancy and garden design. Mike is also available for garden and plant related talks and presentations. Mike has been a professional horticulturalist for over fifteen years.

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