The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Three Favorite Views at Chelsea

The Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei

Irish Sky Garden designed by Diarmund Gavin

The Daily Telegraph Garden designed by Cleve West

We spent the last day of The Best of English Gardens tour at the Chelsea Flower Show. We arrived on site as soon as it opened and were able to take a look before the throngs of people descended. It was a gorgeous day and a very comfortable temperature.

Almost every display garden had something that I admired but several had elements that I didn't think enhanced the gardens. Diarmund Gavin's beautiful garden employed a distracting "pod" or floating garden that was lifted into the air by a gigantic crane. It came off as more of a publicity stunt than inspiring gardening. That is unfortunate because I liked the rest of the garden very much. The garden consisted of a pleasing combination of yew, boxwood and hornbeam topiaries mixed with drifts of ornamental grasses.

The Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei was one of the best gardens, I thought. This Italian designer is known for impeccable formal spaces with very little herbaceous material. He broke away from that formula with two tasteful and harmonious herbaceous borders that felt very English. I thought the boulders sculpted by Peter Randall-Page were striking. The garden also had a dozen mature Parrotia persica specimens which were limbed up in a very elegant fashion.

The Best in Show Award went to Cleve West's garden for the Daily Telegraph. West's garden had a Roman ruin theme and had several stone columns created by pair of sculptors from the south of France named Serge Bottagisio and Agnes Decoux. The columns were inspired by the Roman ruins at Ptolemais, in Libya and the garden walls were made of golden Cotswolds stone. The sumptuous and subdued herbaceous planting complimented the wall which was painted a mellow golden color.

I was sad to see The Best of English Gardens tour end but I am anxious to return to my own garden to try put some new ideas, inspired by the tour, into place.


  1. What a wonderful trip you have had. In 2007, I visited both Chelsea Flower Show, Great Dixter, Sissinghurst, Batesman, Nymans and a couple of other gardens in East Sussex and Kent, so your posts bring back very fond memories... I checked out the 3D video of the Cleve West garde, but couldn't quite see the charm, but then, gardens really must be seen live.

  2. So glad you got to Chelsea! What a trip you've had. Looking forward to seeing many more pictures in months to come.

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip. It was interesting to read your take on a couple I have visited myself. I find some of the concept gardens shown at Chelsea, Hampton Court and other British shows to be a bit more to someone else's taste and less so to mine.

  4. Dear IG,
    It was a great trip. I should check out the Cleve West video. I think it reads much better in person. I thought the yellows of the hardscape didn't look very good on film. Thanks for commenting.

    Chelsea was fun, but a little crazy. I went to a Gardens Illustrated lecture with Dan Pearson and Cleve West among others. Will post about it later.

    Hi Les,
    I know what you mean about display gardens. They tend to go over the top but each garden usually has something compelling to offer. Is is also interesting to see the work of some of these very popular designers in person. Great to hear from you. Thanks.

  5. Looks like it was fantastic! How lucky you went. But your place ain't too shabby, either.

  6. It was terrific, Benjamin. My place is filling in by this point in June. Good luck with your tour!



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