Jenny Rose Carey at the entrance to The Chelsea Flower Show, London, England 2023
The Chelsea Flower this year was held as usual at the Royal Hospital Grounds in Chelsea, London, England. The site is a magnificent one on the banks of the River Thames. Every year when I prepare for my Chelsea trip, I get excited to see what they will pull out of the gardening hat this year. There is always something new and distinctive, and things to get horticultural conversations going.
Read on if you want to see my 2023 Design Trends from the Chelsea Flower Show
What was new in 2023?
2023 will go down in my books as the year of something different. Even Keith Weed, the President of the Royal Horticultural Society said so himself. (By the way – what a very appropriate name). In introducing the show, he said that there was something for everyone this year and he was right.
Wild is in!
The first thing that I noticed was that the show gardens had a wild look. Gone are the days of formal gardens with rectilinear lines and rows of clipped box balls. In are the dandelions, and other weeds that might also be called native plants through a different lens.
The wild movement has seen a lot of traction in the United States and other parts of the world. The American prairie plants so beloved by German plant breeders have traversed the world looking for new homes. The Piet Oudolf-style gardens that use many of these mid-western plants have become the de rigueur designs for public gardens.
The Movement to Re-use Show Gardens After the Show
A big trend at RHS Chelsea was a growing movement to re-use gardens after they have been at the show. Lots of the gardens were designed with a future site in mind. This has been going on for quite a few years now, but it is obvious that there is a concerted effort to get these lovely gardens to have a long life in gardening communities.
Horatio’s Garden was the Best in Show garden at Chelsea 2023
For example, the Best in Show 2023 garden ‘Horatio’s Garden’ is going to Sheffield to surround a spinal care unit. All the features of the garden were designed to be seen at wheelchair height. The cairns, or dry-laid rock domes, were a fabulous feature. They are used in hilly areas of the country, such as the Peak District, to mark the path junctions, and in the show garden, they had the same function of way-finding.
My favorite item in the garden was the water feature (seen above on the left). Since the garden is going to Sheffield where knives, forks, spoons, and other silverware were traditionally made, the designers used the ‘blanks’ for metal casting and arranged them on a water table. I loved this.
Speaking of designers, this garden was designed by the ultra-talented duo of Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg. I have been watching their designs for some years now and they continue to get better and better. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Top Garden Design Trends from the Chelsea Flower Show 2023
1. Ways with water.
There were some lovely water features at the show this year. I always love to see water used in a garden for sound, movement, reflections, and visual appeal.
A garden water basin at the Chelsea Flower Show – designed by Sarah Price
2. Secret spots for hiding away
The Sanctuary Gardens (a small garden category this year) were perfect to show visitors some lovely ways to bring dining out to the garden, as well as sheltered nooks for peaceful reading in the garden (with a little library right next to a bench).Jenny Rose Carey on a bench next to a little library
Jenny Rose Carey on a bench next to a little library
3. Unusual Materials
We get used to the same things being used in the garden, such as lots of stone. I was interested to see that the designers had used strengthened glass to make an outlook. Another used blocks (see below) to allow a screened view from one part of the garden to the other.
I am a big fan of woven materials used as fencing. There were several exhibits that featured pliable sticks used as the weaving material. These fences can act as boundaries or as the outside of raised beds. It is something that has been used for hundreds of years and I am glad to see it highlighted at Chelsea.
A lovely sheltered sitting area at Chelsea Flower Show 2023
Next Month – The Blog for August I will talk about color trends and how this influenced plant choices at the Chelsea Flower Show this year, 2023.
Next month in my monthly email I will be sharing some wonderful photos of the Hampton Court Flower show taken by one of my sisters and a lovely niece – my roving garden reporters on the other side of the pond.
To subscribe to my once-a-month go to jennyrosecarey.com. I hope that you will tell your friends about the email and the blog and see if they would like to subscribe – thank you.
Goodbye for now gardening friends
Jenny Rose Carey