In an English Country Garden: Chelsea Flower Show 2022
Returning to its late spring schedule for 2022, the beautiful Chelsea Flower Show creates a floral wonderland for visitors, with a special focus this year on connecting with nature, bringing the wilderness back and the power of plants...
Plants have long been known to have the power to bring joy and colour to our lives, to provide shade and shelter and to be a vital part of the planet’s biodiversity. And now, at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, the focus is on showing the positive power of plants to improve not only lives, but livelihoods.
From blossoming hedgerows, lush woodland and wildflower meadows to entire gardens designed to raise awareness of the work of a UK charity, the message from this year’s Show is that nature continues to be a force for good.
To really know your way around, Dream Escape recommends starting your day at Chelsea Flower Show with breakfast at a nearby hotel, coupled with an insightful talk from a special garden guest speaker, who can talk about the Show and also accompany you around the gardens. Our experts are charming, highly regarded and armed with a wealth of knowledge about English gardens and native planting.
Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, for instance, has worked with Dream Escape for many years, and is the gardens adviser to Historic Royal Palaces. He has also hosted groups at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace. His new book English Garden Eccentrics is published in April 2022, and is packed with plenty of stories about some of the most renowned and beautiful English gardens, and gardeners, from history.
“Attending the show on members day with an expert guide, followed by a leisurely journey to visit some of England’s greatest and most glorious gardens is the ultimate treat for anyone”, shares Dream Escape’s Travel Designer and in-house garden expert, Caroline Charnock.
BACK TO THE WILD
For all visitors to the Show this year, the overriding impression is of a lush landscape of native British flowers and plants that support wildlife, and add a rich colour palette to our green and pleasant land. From nettles, cow parsley, poppies and buttercups to hazel, crab apple, weeping willow and hornbeam, the variety of flora on display to visitors comprises swathes of green speckled with whites, creams and pinks throughout the show.
First-time Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea designers Lulu Urquhart and Adam Hunt will use native plants, including hawthorn and field maples, to demonstrate the dramatic transformation of land through beaver reintroductions; while designer Joe Perkins aims to highlight the connection between plants and fungi in our woodland ecosystems in a garden featuring over 3,000 plants and trees, including sweet chestnut.
Exhibiting in the Great Pavilion, the gardens involved in the All About Plants category will visualise the many ways plants can positively influence mental health, community, and industry. Lottie Delamain’s ‘A Textile Garden for Fashion Revolution’ raises important questions about the link between natural dyes and the fashion industry, while mental health counsellor Pollyanna Wilkinson uses her planting to reflect the journey of recovery many women face in motherhood, with a muted palette transitioning to bright and exuberant colour to reflect a journey from despair to hope.
The feeling of connectedness with nature continues in ‘A Garden Sanctuary’, comprising rich and vibrant green woodland planting and an immersive tree canopy; a theme echoed by the COP26 Garden, designed to show how gardens, plants and public green spaces can play an integral part in protecting our planet and people.
BEST IN SHOW
Of course, one of the highlights of the Chelsea Flower Show is always the show gardens, where designers and creators in the past have included the likes of the Duchess of Cambridge.
The Morris & Co. garden reimagines two classic patterns by Victorian designer William Morris, while the Perennial Garden is a classical yet contemporary design that elegantly combines hornbeam hedging with hawthorn trees – providing structure and symmetry along a rill. And back for only its second year, the House Plant Studios encourage visitors to think about bringing outside in, with a range of studios featuring some inspiring ways to use houseplants in the home.
There’s so much to see, and with Dream Escape you’ll gain VIP access to this and other top garden shows, like the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in July, and exclusive private garden events. “We will help you discover a heady mix of gardens – some world-renowned, such as Highgrove, RHS Wisley and Gravetye Manor, and other hidden gems – which are a Dream Escape secret,” teases Caroline Charnock. “On paths both well and less trodden, you will be amazed by the gardens’ diversity of character, colour and arrangement”.
FROM FIELD TO PLATE
Echoing the enduring message throughout this year’s Show, the gastronomic offering also reminds visitors of the importance of sustainable agriculture and protecting the planet’s biodiversity.
As headline sponsor, The Newt in Somerset – a working estate in rural Somerset – brings to the Show a shared belief in the power of gardening for good. (Read more in our Somerset article, page 78)
Inspired by local heritage and sustainable farming, The Newt comprises farmland, orchards, restaurants, a cyder cellar, a luxury hotel and acres of gardens that have been lovingly tended to for over 250 years. The gardens’ latest incarnation takes visitors on a journey through horticultural history, mixing ornamental and productive elements; a feast for the eyes and stomach.
Also blending gardens and gastronomy, is Jardin Blanc, with menus designed by Jardin Blanc’s chef director, Raymond Blanc OBE. This magical place has views across the Show’s gardens combined with an incredible selection of art, and Dream Escape can arrange special hospitality experiences at Jardin Blanc, which includes a luxurious four-course meal with Champagne and live music.
Elsewhere, you’ll find the quintessential Drawing Room, where you can have a floral-inspired Champagne afternoon tea, created and served by the award-winning team from The Dorchester. Nearby, by the Champagne and Seafood Restaurant serves sustainable fish and shellfish, and a sumptuous ‘Chelsea Brunch’, all matched with fine wines and ice-cold Champagnes.
Carefully selected accommodation completes the landscape. “Perfectly placed, we will always select luxurious properties that will help you discover the gardens of England in true style. The Dream Escape Garden programmes will always allow you the time to indulge your senses and smell the roses, whilst embracing the great English countryside,” adds Caroline Charnock.
THREE GARDEN HIGHLIGHTS
A Swiss Sanctuary, by Lilly Gomm
Inspired by and echoing travels to Switzerland, the garden is conceived as an imaginary personal sanctuary, pulling together the unique flora that typifies different regions of the country. Mixing alpine and Mediterranean planting, the garden is designed to echo the Swiss landscape and includes large stones to represent mountains, falling water and pools reminiscent of lakes and waterfalls, as well as bespoke iron benches, wooden cladding, and a mixture of colours and contrasting textures, including apple trees, Scots pine, and Edelweiss – a plant symbolic of Switzerland.
ZEN Garden, by Kazuyuki Ishihara
With a gentle reminder to live in the moment and engage with nature in a mindful way, The ZEN Garden has quiet yet dynamic structures. Water moves slowly, a simple rock garden offers a place for contemplation, while black-granite stripes laid in the stone garden create harmony between greenery and stone. Drawing on Japanese satoyama, or mountain lowlands, the garden features freshly leafed green acers, watercress and iries.
The Boodles Travel Garden, by Tom Hoblyn
Designed to celebrate the 16-day world trip taken in 1962 by Anthony Wainwright, grandfather to the current chairperson of Boodles, the Boodles Travel Garden draws on planting from the four corners of the world. A true global garden, water features flow like rivers, while trees provide shade and calm, and in the flower beds and pots, tree ferns, dogwoods and acers blend native plants from India, East Asia and the US.
We attend the Chelsea Flower Show every year and it never disappoints. Our passion and love of gardens across the UK and Ireland is always shared with our clients, delivering magical experiences every time
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Caroline Charnock, Travel Design Manager & Garden Expert “To be able to share my passion and expertise on gardens and garden tours with our clients is so rewarding. Attending prestigious events like the Chelsea Flower Show is certainly one of the highlights of the RHS calendar, but to discover our wonderful gardens in all their glory throughout the year is what turns our private garden experiences into memories of a lifetime; and I simply cannot wait to share with you some of my absolute favourites.”
WORDS | EMMA JOHNSON