Chelsea Flower Show

Mr & Mrs Clarke drinks in the all the goodness of indoor/outdoor living and reflects on how our outdoor spaces feed our souls and reflect the essence of home.

chelsea flower show

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a highlight on the spring calendar, usually. It’s floral displays, frothy foliage and blooming gorgeousness are all irresistible, not to mention, aside from the visually arresting pop ups, it is a veritable landscape of advice and inspiration for home owners, who travel across the UK, a posey pilgrimage if you will, to join in the festivities and learn a thing or two along the way, sharing in ideas and expanding on our garden knowledge.

This year, Chelsea Flower Show has gone digital for May, with the full scale IRL event taking place in September. This is exciting news indeed. Not least because we’ll get to experience the show on foot once more, but also, because it offers up new and exciting opportunities for the gardens and their designers, to think outside the flower window box and re-imagine garden spaces, with an entirely different season of plant and flower produce at their fingertips.

It got Mr & Mrs Clarke thinking about how we utilise our gardens through the seasons and how we interpret them as an extension of our homes.

Never have our outdoor spaces meant so much to us before. Since last March we’ve pruned and weeded, mowed and moved furniture, erected sheds/studios/studies/man caves/yoga cabins and truly embraced the beauty of indoor/outdoor living as we’ve been confined to the safety of our own homes. It’s has been a joy to watch as people have embraced gardening like never before, and, now that the world is opening up once more, there is a definite shift in our sense of home and our gardens as a sensory sanctuary.

That smooth transition from hardwood floor to herbaceous border, is now designed with more care and attention to that continued feeling of home. How we use spaces, more entertaining and celebrating takes place in those outdoor courtyards and under pergolas. On verandas we reflect on the beauty of our surrounding areas, cup of coffee in hand and take solace in the privacy that lush and established tree-lined boundaries give us.

chelsea flower show

Lucy Clark, founder, Studio Clark + Co, is an interior designer who, in 2018 stepped into the world of Chelsea Flower Show to create a beautiful garden space that explored the interplay between inside and outside as a blended, hybrid form of living. “I have been visiting Chelsea Flower Show since I was a teenager and it is fascinating to see more inclusion of interior elements on the show gardens, as well as an increasing supplier list of exterior furniture brands.”

When it come to bringing the outside in, Lucy has always been an advocate of embracing that feeling of home within the lush beauty of nature, and with that, sourcing furniture, as you would for the home. Furniture brands are adapting their traditional interior collections with exterior fabrics for durability, so you can find that plush indoor look and feel, with all the quality, but a hardiness for the outdoors.

Back to Chelsea, Lucy first met Chris Beardshaw working on a private client project and, as she explains ”I was lucky enough to be asked by him to assist on the furnishing and styling interior elements of his RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in 2018 and 2019.” This lead to a brief and concept that deeply considered the relationship between indoors and out. Materials, colour schemes (not just those naturally occurring outdoors) soft furnishings, architectural details and, quite naturally, planting, all need to marry harmoniously and with an non-staged, organic feeling. “Chris’ (Beardshaw) aim for his 2019 Morgan Stanley Garden was to create a contemporary celebration if the traditional English style plantsman’s garden, whilst ensuring that in the production of the garden, resources were managed sensitively.

In response his brief, the garden demonstrated investment pieces by Minotti London and Tom Faulkner, but a high level of inspiring creativity as well as a nod to sustainability, sourcing a recycled plastic inset rug from Tim Page Carpets. The Minotti Collette armchairs inspired Chris to create a rod curved structure to one of the pods.

Lucy Clark

This culmination of interior ideas, flowing out onto outdoor spaces is a flourishing concept that will only continue as we continue to nurture our gardens. Sensitivity to the outdoors is also top-billing for most now, so while we aim to live more with nature, we respect its awesomeness and work design elements in delicately, so as not to disturb that beautiful balance.

This last year has given us, and other visitors to Chelsea alike, time to reflect on what our gardens mean to us. For Lucy, the calendar switch up offers new opportunities, “I was super excited to see Jonathan Snow and his Trail Finders Himalayas Garden {but} it does present exciting new challenges on every level, not least, how we value and use outdoor space, post COVID.”

Thinking about this opportunity, with more emphasis by the show on Autumn seasonality, we’ll be in for a treat, discovering just how to embrace our gardens more into the cooler months. Why stop enjoying the outdoors when the sun retreats? If this last year has taught us anything, it’s that fresh air, and outdoor socialising can be a wonderful thing for the soul.

“This will probably be one of the most interesting and historic of the RHS Chelsea Flower Shows, to see what designers and exhibitors have got up their sleeves to inspire us all after a very tough year. More than ever, our homes and gardens are our sanctuaries.”

We couldn’t agree more, Lucy.

Flower Show worthy homes

Thorpe Hall in Robin Hood’s Bay
The garden is arranged in a series of terraced lawns connected by stone steps and winding paths. An enchanting trail from the front of Thorpe Hall through woodland, past a pond and through long grasses and wildflowers leads to a an orchard and 3 acres of grazing bordered by Thorpe Beck. There is a paddock at the eastern side of the land where you can keep your own horses or rent out. The south facing terrace enjoys bucolic views of uninterrupted countryside to the cliffs of Ravenscar on the horizon.

thorpe hall
park view road woldingham

Park View Road in Woldingham
Standing on the sun-drenched terrace with the awe-inspiring views across an area of outstanding natural beauty, you can appreciate the wonders of living at Hardown House. This impressive property, is located in two acres of gardens on a private road in the sought-after unique village of Woldingham.

Rookery Barn in Rowington
When our photographer visited the property she said that out of the thousands of gardens she had photographed this was her favourite – high praise indeed. The garden is split into Courtyard and Lawn. The Courtyard is an oasis of calm – the water trickling down to the pond provides a gentle hum and the array of flowers, shrubs and trees shelter the seating areas. Steps take you up to a hidden space to hang your washing out and there is a shed for hiding unsightly garden tools. Through an archway you come to a vast lawned area that has been the arena for little football matches, the occasional game of croquet and a lot of pottering.

rookery barn rowington
long barn

Long Barn in Ashbourne
Outside. What adjectives would do this justice? A south-facing terrace, natural pond, private patio from the kitchen, views over the pastures, and that brook; in this setting you’re really spoilt for choice. To add another layer of natural beauty, there are fruit trees, a copse with oaks, a garden swing to while away the day, lavender hedges and a glorious established white wisteria. It’s the stuff of dreams.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show takes place 21 – 26 September 2021. But we are open 7 days a week.

Images: RHS Chelsea Flower Show Morgan Stanley garden designed by Chris Beardshaw and Lucy Clark.

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