For one week of May each year, the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea are transformed into a collection of fresh, artisan and show gardens that brings to life a lively and creative horticultural and increasingly technological display for the world's most prestigious flower show - RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
This year, for the first time, Chelsea Barracks commissioned world renowned landscape and garden designer, Jo Thompson, to create a traditional British rose garden for the show. Inspired by the rich heritage of Chelsea Barracks, Jo's design took cues from the architecture and landscaping of the new development which neighbours the Royal Hospital.
Whereas the conventional rose garden tends to be a rather formal affair, often laid out in geometric patterns and sometimes exclusively featuring roses, the planting in the Chelsea Barracks garden took a more fluid approach avoiding sharp lines and edges.
Roses, nestled between perennial planting, were a main feature of the quintessentially British garden. These flowers symbolise the historic Rose window of the listed Garrison Chapel which is preserved as the centrepiece to Chelsea Barracks.
The garden has been designed to be a communal space where people can relax and socialise with a large oval lawn accentuated with three unique seating benches designed by Gareth Neal.
Bronze sculptures designed by Barbara Myers pay tribute to the former residents of the Barracks, also giving a nod to the Chelsea Pensioners, while a wall of water and sculpted stone tidal rill referenced one of London’s lost rivers; the Westbourne, whose original path flowed beneath both the Chelsea Barracks site and the Royal Hospital, home to the Chelsea Flower Show since 1913.
The garden will be permanently relocated to the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) village in Kent, where it will be at the heart of a new housing development for sick, wounded and injured veterans.
As one of the handful of show gardens to win a Gold medal at this year’s show, Jo’s interpretation of a traditional rose garden re-imagined for the 21st Century proved to be an incredibly popular, beautiful and colourful display enjoyed by all at the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
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