Chelsea 2016 Highlights
by RHS
January 3, 2016

Every year since 1998 I have had the privilege of attending Chelsea with my tour groups...2016 is no exception in the wow factor...

My 2016 Tour will include not only Chelsea but some stunning London area gardens plus the Chunnel over to Paris to see some delightful gardens there...

You can see the full tour at

Come along, eventually is now!

Donna, owner,

What are some of the things you will delight in this 2016 Chelsea?

This year in the Great Pavilion, the jewel in the RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s crown, the RHS welcomes Bowdens to its central monument site. The Devon-based multi-RHS Gold medal winning nursery takes the largest space at the show with a 6,000sq ft planted-up train station. Centrepiece of the exhibit will be an 80ft-long carriage from 1920s Belmond British Pullman (sister train to the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express) with liveried stewards, linen and crockery. The train stands in the middle of a time-travel journey, with plants ranging from beautiful neat hostas on Platform 1 to rare jungle ferns on Platform 2, the display takes you on a plant seeker’s journey.

Millais Nurseries will this year celebrate the centenary of the Rhododendron Society, which held its first AGM at Chelsea Flower Show in 1916. Their walk through exhibit will compare large growing plants that were favoured 100 years ago, to the modern, compact varieties better suited to today's smaller gardens.

The Great Pavilion, a 12,000sq metre marquee big enough to park 500 London buses, will feature more than 100 exhibits from the world’s best nurseries, growers and florists. Nurseries exhibiting for the first time at the show include Tom Smith Plants, Hogarth Hostas and Love the Plot You’ve Got.

Show Garden highlights

Among the highlights this year is multi-award winning designer Cleve West’s return for RHS Chelsea Flower Show sponsor M&G Investments, with a garden inspired by a memory of the ancient oak woodland on Exmoor National Park where the designer spent his teenage youth. The garden will feature approximately 30–40 tonnes of stone, sourced from a quarry in the Forest of Dean, and includes a stone and gravel path with woodland-edge planting leading to a sunken terrace and pool.

Diarmuid Gavin, who won Gold with a multi-tiered garden in 2011, will present ‘The British Eccentrics Garden’ in 2016, sponsored by Harrods. Diarmuid was inspired by the inventions of some the UK's most imaginative minds, such as the cartoonist William Heath Robinson, known for his drawings of ridiculously complicated machines that achieved simple objectives. Diarmuid has designed a beautifully gentle garden of terraces and topiary complete with octagonal folly and a sunken Italianate pond. As the garden of an eccentric, however, this peace is designed to be disturbed. Box balls set amid the floral drifts begin to bob up and down, conical bay trees begin to twirl, and colourful planting rises from the ground to dress the first-floor windows. A wooden shed houses contraptions created from cogs, wheels, straps and parts of old bicycles which form the garden gadgetry. This is the playground of an inventor, who loves his garden but loathes the work involved in its upkeep, and so has concocted his very own DIY scheme.

Great Pavilion veteran Rosy Hardy branches out with her first Show Garden: ‘Forever Freefolk’, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin. It is inspired by endangered chalk streams, which provide a rich habitat for aquatic plants, insects and wildlife, but are slowly disappearing. With only 210 left in the world, 160 of which are in England, Rosy’s garden tracks the path of a vanished chalk stream in north Hampshire as it passes through various transitional planting: from the arid stream bed through the chalk downland to the lush planting that fringes the beautiful clear waters of its source.

Combining stylistic elements of the East and West, Chihori Shibayama & Yano Tea create their first Chelsea Show Garden for Watahan & Co, which aims to convey the diverse cultures of the UK and Japan. The design reflects both the manicured minimalist Zen gardens of Japan while incorporating the dense informal planting styles found in the UK. Designed for people living in urban areas, the garden aims to make visitors feel they can move seamlessly between two cultures united within a single landscape.

Other Show Garden highlights include

Chris Beardshaw’s return to Chelsea with a garden for Morgan Stanley which will be located at the heart of Great Ormond Street Hospital after the Show, James Basson with ‘The L’Occitane Garden’; Jo Thompson, who has designed ‘The Chelsea Barracks Garden’; RHS Young Designer of the Year 2010 Hugo Bugg, back with ‘Royal Bank of Canada Garden’; and Andy Sturgeon with ‘The Telegraph Garden’ which features the work of 10 different craftsman including architectural ironworks, artists, sculptors, ceramists and more.

Artisan Garden highlights

Peter Eustance of Symphonic Gardens has developed an acoustic Artisan Garden for disability charity Papworth Trust, inspired by world-famous percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie. The garden creates an acoustic pulse inspired by Evelyn’s love of the ‘sea music’ produced by the women of the Vanuatu islands who create amazing rhythmic songs with just their hands, water and voices.

Returning to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Sarah Eberle draws on international inspiration for her garden for Viking Cruises, based on the floating gardens of the silk-weaving region of the Mekong River in Cambodia. Largely made up of water, with a small deck leading to a ‘floating’ lounger styled on a traditional fishing boat, this oasis also features a cantilevered parasol inspired by traditional fishing nets, and silk weaving provides shade.

Fresh Garden highlights

Fresh Gardens are expected to make a splash with an assortment of conceptual designs to excite and engage visitors. Tackling the controversial subject of modern-day slavery, Juliet Sargent’s Chelsea debut aims to raise awareness of the 13,000 slaves living in the UK, as well as more than 27 million worldwide. This struggle is represented by two contrasting atmospheres: empty, lifeless and black inside; colourful and open on the outside. The open doors and path represent the way to freedom for modern slaves.

Also exhibiting in the Fresh category for The Marble and Granite Centre are design duo Martin Cook and Gary Breeze, who have created a garden set inside a giant 2.5m granite cube. This is a representation of a world turned inside out; a garden inside a sculpture; desolation verses life; civilisation versus nature. The huge, hollowed-out cube features a mirrored interior and open top – the interior is full of planting, invisible from the stark, ash-charred exterior other than through cracks.

Other highlights in the Fresh and Artisan section include ‘The World Vision Garden’ designed by John Warland, which symbolises how unpredictable and vulnerable life is. ‘The Dye Garden’ demonstrates age-old techniques used by artists such as Rembrandt of using plants to dye fabrics in the most beautiful colours. After winning Silver-gilt at last year’s show, John Everiss returns with a garden for Meningitis Now.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row