Chelsea 2008

June 4, 2008

in Events, Shows

Chelsea 2008

Three of the thinkinGardens committee made a short film recording our thoughts (image above) about some of the gardens, and we all seemed to agree that our best was “Garden in the Silver Moonlight” by Haruko Seki and Makoto Saito (images below). It is fresh, beautiful, works from every viewpoint and is wonderfully fitting to the difficult site.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 2

Garden in the Silver Moonlight, Haruko Seki for Studio Lasso

Chelsea 2008 - Image 3

Garden in the Silver Moonlight, Haruko Seki for Studio Lasso

Chelsea 2008 - Image 4

Garden in the Silver Moonlight, Haruko Seki for Studio Lasso

Chelsea 2008 - Image 5

Garden in the Silver Moonlight, Haruko Seki for Studio Lasso

Chris Young’s review of the show gardens


A clear winner, and as ever the planting was spot on. The cool, refreshing calm mid-greens and occasional whites were a welcome sight this year – the planting complemented the hard landscaping: the details of the thin paving gave a softness to the planting; and the flat troughs of water reflected the sky. The only thing I still wrestle with is the heavy nature of the cloud-pruned hornbeams: the ‘blobs’ seemed somewhat heavy, without that lightness of touch that this woodland garden required.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 6

Tom Stuart-Smith, Laurent-Perrier Garden


A lesson in too many materials not making a garden. The planting was scatter gun (agaves with alliums with olives?); the hard landscaping of mis-mashed paving, colour perspex and decking all too much.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 7

Trevor Tooth, Lloyds TSB Garden


My personal favourite. The double-layered tree canopy of palm and Schinus molle gave a dappled, cool and easy-going feel to the space; the back ivy-clad wall was a clever but simple treatment; and the inter-related planting and water feature was sublime. My best in show.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 8

Robert Myers, A Cadogan Garden


A great garden – simple, refined but immaculate. The spaces between the planting were considered, and the planting detail of pleached limes and ornamental rhubarb gave a frivolity to the otherwise open space.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 9

Clare Agnew, Reflective Garden for Ruffer LLP


This one rather missed me by – the concept was clever, the build great, and the ability to generate that much height at Chelsea amazing. But for me, when I look over an edge and down into a space, I want to be rewarded and uplifted – here I was neither. It made me feel flat, ‘so-whatish’ and uninspired. The aspidistra in the corner was nice.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 10

Shao Fan, I Dream, I Seek my Garden for KT Wong Charitable Trust


They were robbed – silver? Admittedly, I haven’t seen the brief they submitted, but this was a beautiful space: the walls were stunning; the planting (a bit ‘2005’) was soft but plentiful; the interaction between hard and soft totally balanced. The fine line of the pergola-like spatial divide was a subtle approach, letting the more dominant rammed-earth and stacked stone walls, and dense planting sing loudly.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 11

Wynniatt-Husey Clarke Ltd The QVC Garden for QVC


Garden in the Silver Moonlight, ‘A contemporary interpretation of traditional Japanese concepts’ was what it set out to be – and it did not disappoint. Simplicity at its best (plus well sited by RHS organisers amongst the trees): bamboo canes rising from the water; sinuous thin paving; ‘scale-like’ water sculpture; and blocks of planting. The total was a haven of calm.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 12

Haruko Seki, Makoto Saito Garden in the Silver Moonlight for Studio Lasso

Haruko Seki, Makoto Saito Garden in the Silver Moonlight for Studio Lasso


I was actually quite pleased with this – compared to the garden last year. The colour coordination, landform, concept and planting was interesting and, as a parent, I know my kids would enjoy this. Some elements were a little tokenistic, but hey – the kids won’t care.

Stephen Anderton’s comments, based on the pictures

Tom Stuart Smith’s garden for Laurent-Perrier

Loved the tanks but wanted to be able to touch the water; they were buried in the beds. I wanted the odd one out in the open, or at least partially.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 13

Tom Stuart Smith's garden for Laurent-Perrier

Mark Gregory’s garden for the Children’s Society

Good to see a simple, clean, dignified water feature after so many swirling, designer plug holes.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 14

Mark Gregory's garden for the Children's Society

The judges deemed the Astelia too far forward….

Chelsea 2008 - Image 15

Mark Gregory's garden for the Children's Society

Chelsea 2008 - Image 16

Mark Gregory's garden for the Children's Society

Odd how that wonderful sense of stasis created by a ball standing still on a hard surface is lost when it’s on water; a different effect. Or at least it is so to my eye. Is it still or ready to roll? Is the cup half full or half empty?

Yvonne Innes garden From Life to Life, a Garden for George

Chelsea 2008 - Image 17

Yvonne Innes' garden: From Life to Life, a Garden for George

Imaginative, but it looks sticky. Scene of a crash….

Jamie Durie’s garden for Fleming & Trailfinder

Chelsea 2008 - Image 18

Jamie Durie's garden for Fleming & Trailfinder

Attractive, but curiously (and I suppose unfortunately in our climate) the cushions are what make it, balance it. Trees, shrubs, perennials, bulbs, biennials, annuals, cushions….

Wynniatt-Husey Clarke Ltd The QVC Garden for QVC

Chelsea 2008 - Image 19

Wynniatt-Husey Clarke Ltd The QVC Garden for QVC

Is the weight of the structures not a bit flimsy, hesitant, in relation to the chunky spaces they define? Something heavier would be more inviting, feel safer, perhaps?

Chelsea 2008 - Image 20

Wynniatt-Husey Clarke Ltd The QVC Garden for QVC

Slender plants against a plain wall are marvellous for shadow-play. Better if these were another foot from the wall, to get the best of it.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 21Functional art – I like it.

Clare Agnew, Reflective Garden for Ruffer LLP

This was the backbone of the garden, the long vista. Lots of cool, rectangular spaces and changes of texture. But I’d have preferred it if the pools were full to the brim, to make an even level throughout, letting the eye concentrate on the texture and light and shade. There is a touch of the assault course here. I’d have preferred deeper, more telling changes of level, or none at all. I wonder if they were meant to be full?

Chelsea 2008 - Image 22

Clare Agnew, Reflective Garden for Ruffer LLP

The screen umbrellas are so aetherial that it would have been great to be able to do without the supporting poles altogether somehow, to enhance that feeling of a floating canopy. Forget the daisy-stalk businiess, it has to work visually first.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 23‘Pull up a Pomfret cake and tell me all about it.’

Chelsea 2008 - Image 24Strands of lilies in bloom would have been a happy, magical link to the flowery planting beyond. Out of bloom, the pool seems so much more Minimalist than the flower garden, that it might have been better without the lilies altogether. So do you design for summer, or winter….

Chelsea 2008 - Image 25Busy, busy, busy….

Chelsea 2008 - Image 26Tom Stuart Smith for Laurent-Perrier

Funny how elegant, poised trees can seem less poised when rising from a fussy surface, even if it’s only green. Not for nothing are they commonly seen rising from moss or gravel. I’d like to have seen just one or two rising from paving alone. Maybe the restlessness is to do with the unit size of the pompoms and the clumps of perennials below; all a bit the same. Bigger pompoms might have been simpler, fresher, or a more even-textured, all-over planting below; or even the removal of the lower pompoms, to let the remaining ones float away more. At £7k a tree, that’s £500 wasted for every pompon you cut off….

Chelsea 2008 - Image 27

Tom Stuart Smith for Laurent-Perrier

Good to see perennial planting with, effectively, an evergreen edge where it meets the paving.

Chelsea 2008 - Image 28

Tom Stuart Smith for Laurent-Perrier

Stephen Anderton and Chris Young

Images by Charles Hawes and Anne Wareham

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