The Garden Guide

Garden designs at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2011 - a review by Tom Turner

How did  2011 judges choose the Best in Show Award? Since the design is drab, they must have thought planting brilliant. To a degree, one can sympathise: different gardens have different virtues and they can make but a single Best in Show Award. Free from this restriction, has decided to make a set of awards this year: for BEST in a range of categories.

The Daily Telegraph Garden 2011, Best in Show

WORST MISTAKE BY CHELSEA JUDGES The Daily Telegraph Garden designed by Cleve West has been named the Best Show Garden at Chelsea 2011. It was not the best designed garden in the Chelsea Flower Show. Visitors could be forgiven for thinking it was an imaginative conversion of water treatment plant into an ironic comment on a re-engineering of  post-industrialism in an expanded field.


BEST PEOPLE'S CHOICE GARDEN The people voted for Dairmud Gavin Irish Sky garden.  The flying boat garden is a fairground touch. The garden below is pleasing. It has typically Dairmud circles set in reedy vegetation. They are formed in steel, timber and water. But they are closer to 'office landscaping' than 'garden design'

BEST GARDEN ON A DIFFICULT SITE The B&Q Garden shows the best use I can remember of the most difficult show garden site at Chelsea: the almost-triangular site near the press office and the BBC box. It also makes a worth attempt at sustainable planting, combining food and flowers. It is interesting for its balcony gardens and for its fish tank.


BEST WATER FEATURE The Homebase garden (by Tom Hoblyn) has well-made and well-conceived water feature: a braided stream of channels cut into Cornish granite.


 BEST SHOW GARDEN TO OWN    Sarah Eberle has designed the garden I would most like to own, especially if I had a seaview hideaway in Monaco.  It has a delightful swimming pool, lush planting, a shaded pavilion and a super roof garden for a sundowner.  The photograph is of Sarah Eberle with Prince Albert of Monaco.

BEST LIVING STATUES EVER SEEN AT THE CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW   The RNIB brought two living statues to Chelsea.  We got a fright when one of them moved an arm, revealing that it was made of flesh and blood, rather than stone.


 BEST KITSCH GARDEN  Competing for the Kitsch award is becoming a Chelsea regular and this year's winner is a real surprise:  Chilstone of Tunbridge Wells.  I associate Chilstone with impoverished aristocrats' efforts to recover their ancestors' glory with help from reconstituted stone. Since a number of designers seem to compete in this category, we recommend it for consideration to the Chelsea Flower Show organizers.

MOST INTERESTING STRUCTURE: Marcus Barnett for The Times Eureka Garden

BEST PLANTING IN A SHOW GARDEN: Luciano Ciubbilei for the Laurent-Perrier Garden