Blooming lovely! Highlights from Chelsea Flower Show

King of flowers - Charles at Chelsea flower show
King of flowers - Charles at Chelsea flower show Copyright 2023 Getty Images
Copyright 2023 Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The most prestigious gardening show in the world is back in London - and Euronews Culture was there to see the event in all its glory


The creme de la creme of gardening exhibitions opened this week - and Euronews Culture was at the start of Chelsea Flower Show in London to bring you a rundown of all the best things to look out for - whether you’re visiting or admiring the designs from afar.

Officially opened by newly crowned King Charles and Queen Camilla, 2023’s event is taking place - as always - at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea and boasts 36 as well as countless stalls featuring the best of plants and garden furniture from across the globe. 

It’s full to bursting with inspiration for even the least green-fingered garden fans and no matter how small or large your outdoor space, it’s possible to take aspects from the award-winning designs and apply them to your own garden.

Common themes at this year’s flower show are muted colours - lots of whites, pale yellows and purples - the ongoing rewilding versus manicured garden debate, sustainability, accessibility and drought tolerant planting to combat rising temperatures.

On Tuesday 23 May, awards were handed out at the world’s most prestigious gardening event - here are the top prize winners…

WPA Pool/2023 Getty Images
Queen Camilla visits Chelsea standout Horatio's GardenWPA Pool/2023 Getty Images

Best Show Garden: Horatio's Garden designed by Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg

Paid a visit by Queen Camilla, the garden meets the needs of people with mobility issues and embraces the mission of the Horatio’s Garden charity which aims to create and nurture beautiful, accessible gardens in NHS spinal injuries centres.

AFP via Getty Images
Cleve West's evocative garden for the Centrepoint CharityAFP via Getty Images

Best Construction Award (Show Garden): The Centrepoint Garden designed by Cleve West

This striking garden, featuring a ruined house, weeds and a tree torn from its roots, aims to serve as a metaphor for what it means to be young and homeless. The Centrepoint charity helps those young people without a home and the garden incorporates around 120,000 dots, highlighting the number of homeless youths in the UK.

The Royal Horticultural Society
The double award winning garden for National Brain AppealThe Royal Horticultural Society

Best Sanctuary Garden: The National Brain Appeal's Rare Space designed by Charlie Hawkes / Best Construction Award (Sanctuary Garden)

This space, which won two awards, was designed to be enjoyed by people living with dementia, featuring bright visuals and calming surroundings, including a textured path, brightly coloured seating, soothing water features and sheltered spaces for those afflicted.

Royal Horticultural Society
A slice of New Zealand in London - Rosemary Coldstream's winning designRoyal Horticultural Society

Best Balcony & Container Garden: Feels Like Home designed by Rosemary Coldstream

This small garden was inspired by Coldstream’s childhood in New Zealand and features sculptural plants, rich colours and natural materials which come together to make the space 'feel like home' for the designer. It also touches on the theme of the increasing necessity for drought resistant plants for a changing climate across the globe.

Royal Horticultural Society
The Talitha Arts Garden snapped up the All About Plants awardRoyal Horticultural Society

Best All About Plants Garden: The Talitha Arts Garden designed by Joe and Laura Carey

This design celebrates the creative arts and their therapeutic power to help those who’ve suffered trauma. It uses a minimalist palette focusing on the contrast between darkness and light and uses sculpture and muted colours as a metaphor for trauma recovery.

Other highlights from Chelsea Flower Show

In a Chelsea first, designer Manoj Malde married his partner of 33 years, Clive Gillmor, in his own garden at the show.

It’s the only wedding ever held at the Flower Show in its 110 year history and was particularly significant for this year’s theme of diversity and inclusion and was celebrated by the RHS. Judge Alexander-Sinclair said, told the PA news agency: “It’s a Chelsea first and Chelsea one-off – it’s not something you expect to happen at a flower show”, adding, “Isn’t it a glorious idea? Somebody who actually designs this garden about bringing people together, then gets married [in] it. It’s a nice way to connect the whole thing”.

Copyright 2023 The AP
Making history - Manoj Malde and Clive Gillmor tie the knot at ChelseaCopyright 2023 The AP

Very few animals are allowed at Chelsea due to safety concerns - in fact, bees were removed from The Newt’s garden in case of stings - so one four-legged visitor was the toast of the show.

Daisy, a dog rescued from a puppy farm, enchanted visitors as the official mascot of the RSPCA’s garden. As well as raising awareness of the charity, the designers explained they’re aiming to inspire gardeners, calling them, “the secret weapon against wildlife decline”.

Copyright 2023 The AP
Daisy the rescue dog - star of the showCopyright 2023 The AP

Celebrities are a mainstay of the opening of Chelsea Flower Show and this year's star-studded guest list didn't disappoint.

As well as a visit from the King and Queen, Princess Kate joined Chelsea pensioners - ex-military members who live on the grounds of the Royal Hospital - as well as picnicking with school children.

Princess Kate meets Chelsea pensionersPA
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Judi Dench lights up the showGetty Images

Oscar-winning veteran actress Judi Dench was in attendance as well as 'Succession star' Matthew Macfayden and his wife Keeley Hawes.

2023 Karwai Tang via Getty Images
Florals for spring - Keeley Hawes and Matthew Macfadyen attend the flower show2023 Karwai Tang via Getty Images
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Acting royalty - Jim Broadbent and Jim CarterGetty Images

Stars of the silver screen, including Jim Broadbent, 'Downton Abbey' actor Jim Carter and 'Absolutely Fabulous' Patsy - AKA Joanna Lumley - enjoyed the gardens on display.

2023 Getty Images
Absolutely fabulous - Joanna Lumley meets a Chelsea pensioner2023 Getty Images

Not to be mistaken for the King himself, actor Dominic West - who portrayed Charles in 'The Crown' posed for photos at the Flower Show. 

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Is that royalty? No, it's 'The Crown' star Dominic WestGetty Images

Euronews Culture spoke to many attendees and the consensus was, although the favourite gardens mentioned didn’t win any top awards, the stand outs were…

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The RHS Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration features a bronze bust of King CharlesAFP via Getty Images

RHS Garden of Royal Reflection and Celebration designed by Dave Green

This small garden, commissioned by the RHS and therefore not eligible for judging, used plants favoured by the royal family, specifically King Charles III and the late Queen Elizabeth II, as well as elements used at royal residences. Designed to celebrate the Coronation of King Charles, it features a bronze sculpture of the new monarch.

Copyright 2023 The AP
Korean dress worn in front of Jihae Hwang's A Letter from a Million Years Past gardenCopyright 2023 The AP

A Letter from a Million Years Past designed by Jihae Hwang

This impressive garden features a large herb drying structure, usually found in the eastern part of Jirisan - known as 'the mother mountain of South Korea'. The design uses rocks weighing more than 200 tonnes which form a recreation of that mountain, as well as trees, plants and herbs selected for their healing and medicinal properties.

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King Charles joins Kazuyuki Ishihara in his 'fan favourite' gardenGetty Images

The Biophilic Garden Otsu - Hanare designed by Kazuyuki Ishihara

A ‘must see’ for Chelsea visitors, this garden focuses on the Japanese 'hanare', is a small house separated from the main building, considered to be a place of healing. Using moss and water features, this design is one of the most peaceful at the entire event.

While all awards given by RHS judges have been handed out, the People's Choice winner is set to be announced on Friday, 26 May.

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