Kent success at Chelsea Flower Show

Jo Thompson's Sissinghurst-inspired garden

Jo Thompson's Sissinghurst-inspired garden - Credit: Archant

Garden designers from all over Kent triumphed at the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The M&G Show Garden 2015: The Retreat, Silver-Gilt

One star we’ve been following since we first featured her in Kent Life in 2010 is award-winning garden designer Jo Thompson, whose inspiration for the eye-catching oak-framed building in this show garden was Vita Sackville-West’s writing room at Sissinghurst. Her rose-filled soft design drew on the iconic planting of the world-renowned romantic garden and her plants were grown in Kent by Roger Platts at his Edenbridge nursery.

The Retreat was Jo’s largest Chelsea show garden, an honour to be designing for the show’s sponsor M&G Investments.

Jo says: “I drew on my own experiences for inspiration and wanted to represent a quintessentially British restorative retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life.”

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Jo Thompson, English Garden Design

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The World Vision Garden: Silver-Gilt

Kent-born John Warland is always one to watch, as his artistic vision is both creative and stimulating.

His garden in the Fresh category didn’t disappoint, with its translucent orange rods stretching up from a dark pool that had intriguing cubes planted with succulents and squares of grass appearing to float on the surface. It was inspired by the landscape of Cambodia to show the hope that World Vision brings to the children who are hungry and living in fear.

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John Warland

Dyson’s Nurseries: Salvias, Silver-Gilt

William Dyson, curator at Great Comp garden near Sevenoaks and owner of the attached Dyson’s Nurseries, returned to Chelsea after an absence of 11 years to showcase his jewel-bright salvias in the Great Pavilion. William’s display of velvety rich spires of purple, crimson, pink and blues varieties was awarded a Silver-Gilt and he also won third place in the New Plant of the Year award with a wonderful deep burgundy Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’.

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Dyson’s Nurseries,

Great Comp garden

St Mary’s Platt, Sevenoaks, TN15 8QS

Brookfield Nursery: Hostas, Gold

Paul Harris triumphed again with his third Gold Medal in a row for his wonderful hostas. The variegated varieties splashed with yellow shone out in the dullness of a very wet Press Day. Placed next to Dyson’s salvias, the two stands were a welcome burst of colour.

Paul showcased new varieties ‘Restless Seas’ and ‘Coloured Hulk’ with what he described as ‘his best-ever collection’.

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Brookfield Plants, Ashford TN25 4NX

01233 624934

The Living Legacy Show Garden: Silver-Gilt

With 2015 the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, the garden commemorated this historic event and celebrates the role of Wellington College as the Duke of Wellington’s national memorial and living legacy.

The garden displayed both the bleakness and horror of the battle, greenery of the landscape and the architecture of the college, representing the hope for the future. Walmer Castle was where the Duke died in September 1852 and his battlemap is on display at the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham.

Kent and Medway are also important in history as the Waterloo Dispatch with the vital news of victory was carried by Wellington’s aide-de-camp Major Henry Percy from Broadstairs, through Canterbury, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Rochester to London.

Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Garden: Artisan garden, Bronze

Kent’s strong associations include a copy of the Magna Carta in Faversham, Canterbury is one of the charter towns and with celebrations for the 800th anniversary across Kent, it was interesting to see how this could be interpreted in a garden.

The design evoked medieval gardens with wattle hurdles enclosing planting, there were heraldic pennants, and the symmetrical layout symbolised the new law and order of the time.

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Visit Kent,

Ideas to inspire

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show always offers something to visually take away and maybe use in your own garden. Here are some of my favourites ideas from this year

• Go natural: Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth Garden won Best in Show and demonstrated how nature can be emulated so beautifully

• Colour burst: Enliven a sea of purples and mauve flowers with a splash of orange such as geums

• Geometric shapes: Carry a theme of curves and circles for a fluid, soft scheme or straight lines and squares for a more masculine energy

• The unexpected: Throw in an unusual plant, such as an architectural plant among cottage planting

• Water from above: Incorporate water features within vertical planting


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