What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020

Flowers and foliage

Update: although the week is over, you can catch up with the highlights of Virtual Chelsea online.

As The RHS Chelsea Flower Show had to be cancelled this year, Virtual Chelsea is the Royal Horticulture Societies’ morale boosting invitation to every gardener to immerse themselves in gardening online instead.

So, to ‘visit’ the Chelsea Flower Show in 2020, you don’t need a ticket, your most comfy shoes, to book a hotel or fly to England, and you won’t need to jostle with the crowds for the best view. RHS experts have curated a wide variety of special gardening features to share online during the week when the Chelsea Flower Show would normally be taking place.

If you love gardening, you’ll love Virtual Chelsea, whether your garden is massive, small or just few houseplants indoors or on a windowsill. We can look forward to demonstrations from the potting bench, to insights from award winning designers and celebrity florists, to virtual tours of private gardens and leading nurseries, and to spending time with plants people who specialise in many of our favourite plants. Horticulture experts will host daily lunchtime Q&A sessions to help us navigate some of the many gardening pitfalls so our fingers can get a little greener. Continue reading “What is Virtual Chelsea? A Guide to THE Gardening Event of 2020”

Kristian Reay’s Phytosanctuary Garden

Garden with decking, winding path, and copper swing seat

Kristian Reay was named Young Designer of the Year at last year’s RHS Tatton Park Flower Show for his gold medal winning Phytosanctuary Garden.

The Mediterranean themed garden had lots of flowers and scents, with a magnificent copper swing seat as a focal point. Round seats and bean bags offered more space for relaxing (or queuing for the swing?) on a curved area of wooden decking.

Kristian’s planting was a dreamy mix of English and French lavender, Achillea, Gaura, Agapanthus, Verbena, Erigeron, Artemisia, Echinacea, Allium, Nepeta, Kniphofia and Hemerocallis beneath one multi-stemmed Italian olive tree.

On a windy day, there was lots of movement. Plants spilled over a flowing path of Cotswold stone chippings. White Gaura floated butterfly-like over the borders and tall grasses waved in the background. Continue reading “Kristian Reay’s Phytosanctuary Garden”

RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden

As news broke that this year’s flower shows have been cancelled, I found myself gazing at a pile of dry, leafy debris, cleaned from my hens and chicks, wondering whether making a mandala would sooth my mind. It wasn’t the best of ingredients, being a uniformly dull beige.

Overhead view of hens and chicks mandala
Mandala made from hens and chicks in contrasting colours

My thoughts turned to last year’s RHS Chatsworth Flower Show. The Mandala Mindfulness Garden had been designed as a quiet space to allow an urban school to provide wellbeing sessions for small groups and in one to ones. A sense of rest (from the seating areas) and calm contemplation (the mandalas), was balanced by flow (the airy planting and the oval path). Continue reading “RHS Chatsworth’s Mandala Mindfulness Garden”

Classic Combination Planting: Clematis With Roses

Clematis 'Perle d'Azur' in a rose garden
Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’ with roses, stachys and poppies

Today, I’m offering you a picture to dream over: Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur, Rosa ‘Rêve d’Or’ (the pale apricot climber) and Stachys byzantina with a pink moss rose and papaver at RHS Rosemoor.

Clematis and roses have been planted together in cottage gardens for centuries.

The art of combination planting is to mix plants that will extend the flowering season (just how many buds are there on the moss rose?); be harmonious in colour and contrasting in height and texture (the soft lamb’s ear, the prickly roses) and in flower shape. The lamb’s ear brings its spires; the poppy, cups; the roses are rosettes, and the clematis are single, open flowers. The clematis provides height and a mass of purple-blue, which goes so well with the pastel pinks and apricots. There’s a climbing rose too. For good measure, the roses throw scent into the mix. Continue reading “Classic Combination Planting: Clematis With Roses”