Chelsea Flower Show 2022: Favorite Garden Overall

Every detail spoke to me: the rich yet restrained color palette, the clear geometry bringing order, the use of the diagonal axis to expand perception of space, the layering of plants and of materials and the exquisite metal design used both for the pavilion and rill.  I stood trying to absorb it all for at least half an hour – one benefit of being able to attend the show on Media Preview Day. I was allowed the luxury of time to mentally immerse myself in this space.

For once, the theme was not based on some random (to me) traveler, political statement, or trend. This Morris & Co. Show Garden was quite simply based on the designs of Victorian designer William Morris. Designed by Ruth Willmott  the design is influenced by his two most iconic patterns;  Trellis (1864) and Willow Boughs (1887).

Key Design Elements

Using elevations

Having explained that, you will immediately recognize the rectilinear trellis design was the driving force behind the garden layout which was then enhanced by elevating portions for added interest.

Changes in elevation allow for a simple spillway at the end of a rill as well as thoughtfully detailed steps.

Having the pavilion on the higher grade increases its presence as a focal point, especially as this is placed on the diagonal axis within the overall square footprint of the garden. Likewise, stepping up the height of the pavilion for one section makes this especially eye-catching. Very clever!

The darker stones in the step risers draws attention to the slight change in elevation as well as repeating the deep earthy hues of the distant pavilion.

I also really liked the stacked stones used for the walls and step risers, together with the difference in colors. The wide but short stones re-enforce the overall layered detail – perfect choice.

Using patterns

Of course the most eye-catching design detail is the intricate metal screens, posts and panels used in the pavilion and rill, a clear reference to Morris' Willow Boughs design, a personal favorite of mine.

Beautiful detailing on the rill with decorative metal panels and stacked stones.

The repetition keeps the eye moving through the space. Had this only been used on the pavilion as wall screens the designer may have caused us all to focus entirely on those – and miss the myriad delights within the garden itself.

Color selection

Chosen to reflect Morris' love of color, the earthy-reds, blues and silvers are a delight while soft apricot accents add a gentleness.

The occasional use of apricot adds a femininity that might otherwise be lost.

Layering and textures

From the canopy of trees with twining roses to cottage garden perennials and carpeting groundcovers, from the statement of bold foliage to the wispiness of fine grasses:  this is a garden to be savored slowly.

Notice the fabric used for the decorative throw pillows also feature the Willow Boughs design

Well deserving of its gold medal, this is a garden which will continue to delight as its legacy will be to seed several new community gardens in  London.

Have you ever been to the Chelsea Flower Show? Would you like to come with me next year? Well be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be the first to get details. It's going to be an exciting year as I have TWO trips planned!

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  1. nancy mellen on August 23, 2022 at 8:31 am

    I loved this garden and was pleasantly surprised and pleased to see the use of the metal panels in the pergola and rill. In 2012 five recent graduates of Garden Design School USA taught by Robin Templar Williams and Moira Farnham, two British garden designer, decided to create a garden for the Boston Flower and Garden Show. We'd planned on using similar panels in our design, but cost and space caused them to be left out of our design. I was thrilled to see them used. Needless to say this garden was a beautiful design, and I loved the plant combinations.

    • Karen Chapman on August 23, 2022 at 2:54 pm

      Oh how interesting. Yes budget has a nasty habit of getting in the way of creativity. Glad you enjoyed the garden

  2. suzanne kalish on August 23, 2022 at 2:02 pm

    such a wonderful garden! I, too, love the William Morris fabric designs– fabulous! thank you for sharing…

    • Karen Chapman on August 23, 2022 at 2:53 pm

      Those fabrics – and the colors are beautiful aren't they? Glad you liked them too.