Yes it’s that time again.  The days are stretching out, the frosty weather is largely behind us and that can only mean one thing, it’s almost time for Chelsea.  I can’t believe that it is just around the corner and so we at Accent Garden Designs are getting into the flower show mood with a quick look at a couple of the more intriguing gardens due to grace this year’s Main Avenue.

The Massachusetts Garden

Bringing a little bit of Cape Cod to Chelsea, this second Chelsea garden by the collaborative pair Susannah Hunter and Catherine McDonald is inspired by the area around Provincetown Massachusetts.  The coastal region is famous for the “Dune Shacks” where some of the most influential writers and artists to come out of America lived and worked.  The centrepiece of the garden, a wooden “shack” designed by architect Julian Hunter, takes its inspiration from writer Henry Beston, author of The Outermost House and will be etched with quotes and passages from the great literary classic.  Planting designer Catherine McDonald has created a scheme of using plants and shrubs native to Massachusetts, including a Prunus maritima, or American Beach Plum, never before seen at Chelsea.  Designer Susannah hopes to complete the illusion with a set of leather applique panels arranged behind the garden to give the impression of dunes stretching off into the distance.

The Extending Space

Inspired by the changing and varied landscapes of the Pfyn Forest in the Swiss Valais, The Extending Space garden is designed to show off the beauty of pine forests.  Newly qualified designers Nicole Fischer and Daniel Auderset are from Germany and Switzerland respectively and decided to build a garden that reflects their love for their native countryside.  Key to the design are the pine trees, planted to give character but used sparingly to give a spacious feel to the garden.  The trees, combined with an organic pergola constructed of Swiss pine that itself expands as three separate beams of wood, give a sense of the surprisingly wide open spaces of the Pfyn Forest.  Moving through all of this is a water feature designed by artist Simon Percival, fast flowing to begin with until it reaches peaceful pools around the garden hinting at the passage of the Rhone through the forest. I can hear the yodelling already.

Intriguing indeed, this year’s Chelsea is really breaking the thematic mould with gardens dedicated to pine forests, literary landscapes, Persian paradises and even outer space!  We’ll be visiting a few more of the conceptual designs before the gates open as well as an early look at the Fresh and Conceptual categories so keep checking for more of our Chelsea Countdown.

Colours & Plants

We will be keeping our eyes open to see what this year’s accent colour is.  In past shows, we have seen deep red, blue, white and last year, orange being a recurring colour over the various gardens and stands.  Will there be one this year? – I am sure there will.  I am also looking forward to seeing what 2014’s plant of the year is.  Over the last three years we have been introduced to wonderful new varieties. In 2011, it was the beautiful Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ with its pure white petals with dusky lilac undersides.  2012 introduced us to Digitalis ‘Illumination Pink’ developed by Thompson & Morgan – a wonderful foxglove with striking pink flowers with a warm yellow throat.  2013 winner of plant of the year was Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis ‘Soft Caress’ – A super mahonia with slender leaves that you can’t help but draw your fingers through.  I will be watching out for 2014’s contribution!