04 June 2018

Blending landscape and architecture

RHS Chelsea Flower Show

A first time trip to Britain’s most prestigious flower show brought a lot of beautiful and unexpected architectural pleasures. The show was first held at the Chelsea Hospital grounds in 1913 and has always displayed nursery exhibits and model gardens.

The model gardens are of course what steal the show. Each has a distinctive theme and style making for a diverse experience as you wander from one to another. However, one common trait to them all is the integration of architectural elements within the landscaping design. Structures, surfaces and sculptures provide beautiful features to a garden and whether understated or striking, they enhance the atmosphere experienced by those in the space by creating contrasts of textures, shading and colours.

Highlights included the Urban Flow Garden designed by Tony Woods featuring intricately patterned corten steel structures. These provided soft dappled light across the garden, as well as a subtle boundary to the space and textural backdrop for the planting.

The Seedlip Garden designed by Dr Catherine MacDonald was another highlight celebrating the humble garden pea! Circular forms occurred throughout this garden to represent the pea, and a wall of green tubes created an unusual ‘Peavilion’.

A favourite for any architecture lover would have to be The NSPCC Morgan Stanley Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw. Winning a gold medal and Best Show Garden, the judges were clearly also impressed. The garden’s pavilion was reminiscent of Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion in the use of materials, forms and sculpture which created a tranquil space appearing to float over a small pond.