The glorious Peak district hills of Derbyshire make a fitting setting for a grand house like Chatsworth. And what an amazing location for an RHS Flower Show.  On Wednesday I set out to examine the best and the rest on the first day of the 2019 show.   

Show garden picks

‘From Darkness to Light’ garden, designer Lynn Heslop.

‘From Darkness to Light’ garden, designer Lynn Heslop. 

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

An elegant garden of whites and greens, transitioning from sombre deep purples, ‘From Darkness to Light’ represented a journey through and beyond a personal trauma.  Not only was the concept expressed well in the planting, it was also a garden you could imagine in your own setting – perhaps extending straight out from the house through open French doors to glimpse the silver birches gently screening the further view.

‘Find Yourself… Lost in the Moment’ garden, designer Samantha Harvey.

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

Orange and purple make a classic colour mix for gardens under Britain’s cloudy skies.  Derby college’s Find Yourself…’ garden hit the spot for me, with these zingy colours absolutely stand out.  I loved the orange seating too!

‘Thrive Reflective Mind’ garden, designer Richard Rogers.

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

Of the gardens in the Mindfulness category, I particularly enjoyed the Thrive Reflective Mind garden for its feeling of serenity.  There’s water, a bench tucked away next to some exquisite textural planting, as well as a bold sculpture – altogether a lovely place to sit and contemplate.

Hidden Depths

‘Fade to Grey’ garden, designer Mark Malaczynski.

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

There were some really interesting conceptual gardens amongst the Long Border designs; I loved Hidden Depth, designed by Zhu Chen & Liu Yiyao, which represented an aquarium planting scheme and had little glass fish suspended above the plants.  And the Fade to Grey garden poignantly expressed the bright colours of life fading away as an elderly person ages.

Wild Woven

RHS Garden for Wildlife: Wild Woven, designer Sharon Hockenhull.

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

My favourite garden was the RHS Garden for Wildlife: Wild Woven.  This garden really succeeds at showcasing how beautiful a garden can be that is just as welcoming to birds, bees and other animals as it is to humans.  Hedgehogs can easily slip through the colourful escallonia hedge; there is a lovely little pool for birds to bathe and tadpoles to swim in; there are flowers in succession for both people and insects to enjoy.  I think the Gardeners’ World team enjoyed it too as they spend a lot of time filming there!  

The return of the lupin

‘A Touch of Drama’ garden, designer Paul Martin.

Photo © North Leeds Garden Design

So, what were the stand-out plants of the Show?   I was reminded how much I love the rich colours and thrusting spires of lupins, used by lots of the show gardens this year.  The blue bells of platycodon took my eye, as did the furry foliage of silver senecio ‘Angel Wings’. And a new heuchera ‘Snow Witch’ with tiny balls of creamy yellow flower.

Bean there!

Of course, there are also a lot of shopping opportunities at an RHS show.  My favourites were these lovely bean bags from Armadillo Sun.  Completely weatherproof, they can stay out all year round, and what funky colours!  And finally, the gorgeous natural wood lights from the Macmaster Design studio add a lovely Scandi feel to your outdoor room.

Give me more…….

RHS Chatsworth has so much more than this to offer – how about the Power of Trees woodland area with the chance to listen to a tree through a headset, the informative talks including tasty treats from the School of Artisan Food, and of course the huge Floral Marquee with so many tempting plants on display – and for sale!

There’s still time to go and enjoy the Show, it’s on all weekend. Tickets are at:

And to make sure you get the most out of your trip, take a quick look at our blog: