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Guest Post by Pippa Martlew, Garden Design

Chelsea Week is in full swing and SW3 is buzzing as professional and novice gardeners rub shoulders on Main Avenue. The celebrities have posed for photos while quaffing champagne on the most photogenic gardens; the King, Queen and other Family members have filtered through, maintaining the royal connection with Chelsea since the sad loss of RHS patron, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; and the medals and Best in Show have been awarded, to the thrill (and disappointment) of designers, contractors and sponsors.

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, or are following the extensive TV coverage at home, it’s easy to get swept up in all this gorgeous May-madness.

For some years now, many of the garden designers at Chelsea have shunned traditional show garden themes, where horticultural havens were created using high maintenance perennials, rigid topiary and ambitious planting combinations.

Now, Chelsea is about gardens with messages as the show’s popularity provides a powerful opportunity for worthy charities and organisations to promote their causes. There are some magnificent, atmospheric and thought-provoking gardens this year (although one can still hear the perennial question, “…but, is it a garden?” being muttered by more traditional observers).



With this predominance of conceptual gardens, providing metaphors for life’s mental and physiological challenges, planting perfection has given way to craggy landscapes, recycled materials, wildflowers and weeds. The importance of preserving our fragile world is in the front of everyone’s mind and the sustainability of nature and ecology are key themes.

We now celebrate the ‘wild’ garden, where native plants and wildflowers sway in the breeze to the gentle hum of pollinators going about their essential business.

But how do these ideas translate to our own small, but treasured, outdoor spaces?

For many of us urban dwellers our ‘garden’ is limited to a back yard, balcony, or window box, competing with bin stores, bikes and kids’ toys. While those of us with busy schedules can at least take some comfort in knowing that the perfectly manicured garden has fallen from fashion, this more naturalistic style of planting can be tricky to get right. A ‘rewilded’ garden runs the risk of looking like we have simply lost our grip!


So, with National Bee Day just behind us and the throngs still filtering along Royal Hospital Road, tickets in hand, I'll be sharing three fabulous planting schemes with simple tips for creating a little piece of Chelsea, while ensuring that the buzz stays long after the last bulldozer has left the showground.

We're excited to share these specially curated planting schemes over the coming weeks, that you and the bees will love:

  • Sunny Herb & Floral Window Box
  • Pot Collection for a bright Balcony or Patio 
  • Small Planted Border, 60cm x 2m, mainly sunny with some light shade


Pippa Martlew has many years’ experience designing gardens, large and small, for private and commercial clients. 

A Chelsea veteran, Pippa has assisted on numerous show gardens, including 6 Gold medal gardens and a Best in Show (while working for Andy Sturgeon). Closer to home, she enjoys tending her Wandsworth allotment and her own tiny terrace garden. A long-standing friend, Pippa and the London Honey Company have collaborated on a number of projects.

Next article What is World Bee Day?