Gardens devoid of life

Yet again Chelsea is showing gardens that remind me of building sites, maybe not so muddy but as hideous. Chelsea tries to make me feel really old-fashioned and out of date but I'm not. It's just that I like flowers - real ones. I like colour. I like stems and leaves too. I don't know why we have to have steel structures to symbolise something. Why lay down astro-turf and add dull metal. Why plain old timber when real trees could take it's place? What's wrong with a great cottage garden full of beautiful flowers? I find the trendy gardens depressing and lifeless.


  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    Mrs Evans, You just don't get it , do you? And neither do I.

  • Mrs EvansMrs Evans Posts: 3

    Nicely summed up.

  • LilyanneLilyanne Posts: 22

    What you will find with trendy gardens, is that they are pretty much very quick to put together. The gardens that you and I love will take many years of attention and hard work to establish. 

    The way I feel about a great garden, is that it is somewhere you can relax in your spare time or potter when you have 30 minutes, or stroll through when you have not much time at all. It doesn't matter how that garden is constructed, so long as you get pleasure out of it.

  • CalendulaCalendula Posts: 69

    But flowers drop petals and require deadheading. Leaves need sweeping up. Trees need support and pruning. Real soil leads to <shudder> real weeds and real pests and diseases. We can't be doing with all that WORK in our outdoor rooms can we, when all we want to do is open the Bolly and show them off to our neighbours?

  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    Ah, there does not seem to be an oportunity for gardeners like me who just love gardening itself to show our wares at Chelsea.  Perhaps a little cinema or an outdoor screen showing walks through gardens brimming with blossom would do it




    Here are two pictures from my garden taken in the rain which has just started.

  • Paul NPaul N Posts: 222

    It's like comparing Tracey Emin soiled bed sheets with a Leonardo da Vinci drawing. The pseuds rave over the former whilst the rest of us appreciate and enjoy the latter. Not all Chelsea gardens are not to my taste and a few are excellent. But.... 

  • LilylouiseLilylouise Posts: 1,014

    Lovely photos happymarion image

    Pam x

  • Katie BlueKatie Blue Posts: 13

    I think the trend for "minimal" style gardening is driven not just by design but by the fact that houses and therefore gardens are getting smaller, our living spaces are shrinking and will continue to do so as world population grows. How many long victorian gardens I remember so well from my childhood have been divided in half and built on? If these new gardens are seen as an extension of the house, an outdoor room then the emphasis is on the look rather than the plants. My local garden centre is full of dwarf plants, flowers and shrubs suitable for small gardens. Its actually hard to get a rambling rose or a wisteria, anything "old fashioned" . Modern hybrids have their uses but our chioices as gardeners are getting more limited every year and many of our heritage plants are dying out. Chelsea showcases the best of gardeners and the best of the new breed, sometimes its still style over content and economics over ecology. But all the designers work for months, sometimes all year, planning and growing for their gardens whatever we think of the end result. we still see some amazing and diverse gardens at Chelsea, so perhaps all is not lost just yet...!

  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    One of the trends in this years show, possibly the main trend, is a trend towards naturalism.

    A few years ago it was hard to find a wildlife garden at Chelsea. They were considered untidy. Naturalistic gardens may lack colour, but they support more life than any other type of garden. And there seems to be widespread desire to bring 'the countryside' into town gardens.

    Some gardens which are full of colour are actually dead, in terms of the life they support.

    The title of this thread is 'Gardens devoid of life'. There are a lot of gardens at this year's show that are devoid of life. But there are many that are struggling to bring life into our gardens. This does seem to be the trend.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    I generally find Chelsea to be tiresome, but was struck this year by a lot of the naturalistic plantings, in a good way! I like the idea of gardens being an extension of our countryside. I live in Devon, and the hedgerows at the moment are glorious. I agree that lack of space is an issue for a lot of people, but there are some very good innovative ideas around - I'm thinking of the Square Foot Gardening approach which has been mentioned a couple of times on this board, and Rachel De Thame waxed lyrical about last night. I am finding more and more that the stylised designer gardens leave me completely cold.
  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    I have lived through it all.  When I was fisrt allowed to grow marigolds and nasrurtiums in my 12year-old uncle's garden I was six and he insisted I grow them in a straight line.  There was no use in the thirties for anything but utility. Production was everything.  As prosperity grew after the war design took a hold but then the effect of overproduction in agriculture ruined the "natural" garden of our countryside (except I think in Devon which I have just visited and it is beautiful) and we gardeners have to push design aside and help our native flora and fauna survive.  I try to do it in my own garden and think the birds, bees , butterflies, "weeds" and all the other wildlife that consoders it their home as well contribute to that beauty.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,806

    In a way Chelsea has less to do with gardening as most of us know it and far more to do with theatre. The designer gardens are stage sets more than anything else. And as such they are very succcessful. But as something the vast majority of us could either afford, or want, well I am not so sure.

  • My beef with Chelsea is that all the gardens are staged. Half the plants that are seen in the borders would never all be in bloom at the same time normally. But I guess the show is a stage for the garden designers. I agree it would be nice to see some more rather than mainly modern spaces.

  • That last comment was supposed to link through to an article I've written to help you create you own cottage garden but i think I did it wrong.


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,178

    Chelsea gardens are a lot better at seasonal planting now than when I first went in teh late 80s and, as Berghil says, they are stage sets but that deosn't mean there aren't ideas and plants to stimulate us to try new ideas and combinations.  It's ot all about teh gardens either.   The floral marquee is full of world class nurserymen and women from whom you can order top class plants - after chatting about whether they will suit your situation.  

    There are also seed companies, garden art and architecture, tools, machines and alls orts of garden accessories to see and buy.   It's a great day out and great value at £55 for a possible 12 hours of entertainment.   Like any fashion show, you just have to adapt the ideas for normal folk.

    The Vendée, France
  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,806

    Agreed. But for those of us who will never get there, it is a shame the TV  shows the same rubbish over and over and over again, but spends next to no time on the things which make a garden, the plants.

  • AliPAliP Posts: 64

    It’s been interesting reading everyone’s thoughts on Chelsea. I suppose if you likened it to London Fashion week where designer explore the realms of design and to many of us come up with completely un-wearable pieces of clothing, some may see Chelsea a little like that.  However many of the clothes that find their way onto our highstreets have taken inspiration from those catwalks. So for me Chelsea is about inspiration, and it never fails to provide.  So maybe Diarmuid Gavin's tower was not to your taste, perhaps it was the glorious blooms of the Rhodo’s in the Furzey garden, or the soft herbaceous planting in the Brewin Dolphin Garden - geraniums, euphorbias highlighted so simply with red poppies.  Surely there is something for every gardener at Chelsea??


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