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Secret GardenWalks: Europe
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England

History, Horticulture & Design: RHS Chelsea 2011

Chelsea: RBC New Wild Garden Blue Poppy Photo © Alice Joyce

The Himalayan blue poppy repeated a soft hue to benefit the show garden created by The Royal Bank of Canada. A green roof upholstered the top of a cottage building repurposed from a shipping container, while the ground plane featured clean-lined pools to capture rainwater collected from the living roof. After traveling down to the pools for storage, the water would then be released into the garden.

Chelsea RBC New Wild Garden Pool Photo © Alice Joyce

Taking inspiration from the Arts & Crafts movement, the design incorporated dry-stone wall elements planted up with arrays of succulents.

Chelsea: RBC New Wild Garden Seating Photo © Alice Joyce

The RBC Garden’s naturalistic plantings were influenced by the philosophy of the Victorian garden sage, William Robinson.  Designers: Nigel Dunnett & The Landscape Agency

RBC New Wild Garden Photo © Alice Joyce

Chelsea Monaco terrace steps pool Photo © Alice Joyce

A contrasting concept defined the sleek, contemporary style of ‘A Monaco Garden’ designed by Sarah Eberle for the Principality of Monaco. Not surprisingly, each show garden in its own way emphasized the importance of water in a garden plan.

Blue water represented Monaco’s harbor; water collected from building rooftops feeds the pool; drought-tolerant plants were selected for the green roof; the garden’s vertical living walls echo the greening of Monaco’s urban apartment blocks.

As pools and fountains offer to refresh the spirit on a sunny summer’s day, the reflective quality of water plays an equally prominent role, emerging as an essential point of focus in the layout of the Laurent-Perrier Garden designed by Luciano Giubbilei.

Chelsea Laurent-Perrier Garden Photo © Alice Joyce

My experience of the Laurent-Perrier gardens at Chelsea brings to mind a sophistication together with a romantic touch. In 2011 this held true. According to the show guide, the soft pink tones of the lyrical plantings were meant to evoke Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne. As a lover of fine bubbly, and most especially Rosé Champagne, I can’t imagine a lovelier notion.

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