Wet and Wild at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

A look at the New RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

The Grounds of Chatsworth House

The first ever RHS Chatsworth Flower Show took place earlier this month, from 7-11th of June 2017.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a Press Preview day, which ended rather abruptly early afternoon when the poor weather deteriorated resulting in sideways rain and wind strong enough to bring down a 20ft Palm Tree as I was passing by. I also attended the next day, which was the first official day open and the  RHS Members Day.

There has been lots reported about traffic problems and delays, but I can honestly say I had no problems at all, I drove straight into the car parks just after 9am, and settled down to wait for the 10am opening of the show.


The RHS landed a spaceship in disguise as an inflatable giant conservatory, however nobody was allowed in after mid-morning in case they succumbed to the high winds.

There appeared to be a random assortment of giant insects scattered around the site, as I saw no children throughout my visit I can only assume these insects were the reason. They were in fact part of a family trail sponsored by Bonne Maman Desserts.

There were 2 separate floral marques full of nurseries, one called the Cavendish Floral Marquee and the other one called the Devonshire Floral Marquee, both had nurseries in attendance that I have not come across before, as well as many regulars and favourite. The Great Conservatory (Spaceship),  was placed in between them with displays about The Cavendish Banana and Joseph Paxton within.

There was also a very well provided outside Plant Village with 13 nurseries in place.

One of my favourite Nurseries, Pennard Plants, was in attendance with a few new edible varieties available to buy.

I bought a plant of the very Dwarf Tomato Patio Plum which reaches 45 cm tall, and is apparently open pollinated, so hopefully a few seeds can be saved.

The RHS had a planted display explaining about RHS Plant Trials and about the Award of Garden Merit, otherwise known as the AGM.

There were many quirky sights to be seen throughout the show sight, some by design, some due to the weather.

The RHS had a feature garden called Garden for a changing climate, it was a depiction of two different scenarios for a small suburban garden based on gardening now and gardening in the future. It was designed to cope with extremes in temperature, and severe downpours of rain.

The Show Gardens

Many of the show gardens were located together, this area got quite boggy due to the persistent rain, but I did my best in trying to take pictures and crop out the almost obligatory ‘person in a high vis vest’ Theme.

Cruse Bereavement Care: ‘A Time for Everything’

A garden of emotions with planting to symbolise the journey taken by those dealing with terminal illness

This was a lovely garden that was awarded a Silver-Gilt. Worthy of a Gold in my opinion, very restful, with a seating areas, and parts of the garden out of view so you could not see it all at once. Very nice planting.

The Agriframes Garden

This garden is styled to reflect the influence of the Modernist movement yet could translate brilliantly to a current setting.

Apparently the idea was to view the seamless tubular steel frames of the pergolas change in shape from square to rounded as you walk through, representing the evolving use of this product in industry. Well it looked like a bit of an advert in my mind, however I really liked the colour combinations, but not necessarily the actual design itself.

There were annoying patches of grass throughout the garden which did not appear to serve any purpose, difficult to step onto because of surrounding plants and structures, and certainly from my point of view as a gardener, very difficult to actually maintain, you’d have to trim them with shears.! This Garden was awarded a Bronze. But as I said, I liked the colour combinations.


Moveable Feast

This garden takes on the fight with ‘no maintenance gardening’ and wins with all year round interest for anyone

I was really looking forward to seeing this garden, the concept of an entirely movable garden appeared to have passed Garden Designers by, until Tanya of Vergette Gardens designed this garden in order for the owner, or tenant of a property to take all the plants and features with them should they move on.

 It’s a great idea also if any plants needed moving in or out of shady or sheltered areas to better suit their needs then they could be easily rolled into a new position. The Garden was awarded a Silver Medal.

Belmond Enchanted Gardens

As you enter the garden through the scented doorways, you’re drawn into a floral journey which invites you to dream a little.

Best in Show

This was an interesting garden, there were only a few small areas where you could see into the garden, so it was a bit of a squash.

Predominantly naturalistic plantings with wildflowers, and seeding grasses, there were also small areas planted with herbs, and edibles.  The twisting staircase led upwards (to nowhere), or as the show guide said, to wherever your imagination takes you. This garden was awarded a gold, and was best in show.  Personally I was very confused by this garden.

IQ Quarry Garden

Best Show Garden

Best Construction award

Influenced by the life cycle of a quarry, this garden is designed for a professional couple who have built a modern house, and are inspired by brutalist form.

This garden appeared to be in 3 sections, the front section was very heavily planted, with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, this was to represent nature reclaiming the area.  The middle section was lots of gravel and a water hole that you couldn’t see into from the boundary of the garden.

And the third section was very harsh in design and colour, and had a scantily clad woman sprayed orange draping over rocks… I had no idea what this was for, so I wandered off in search of an ice cream.

Experience Peak District & Derbyshire Garden

Lee’s garden gives a flavour of all that is great and beautiful about the Peak District and Derbyshire. Meadows, native trees and models of cows illustrate the wild and natural spaces while the traditional, manicured formal gardens take their cue from the area’s great houses

This was a nice garden, with lots of themes stuffed into a small space, with a big wide open area to represent the Peak District. (The rain certainly helped).

The planting was nice, but once again lots stuffed in, there where silver & Gold Cows dotted about, and apparently earlier in the day Alan Titchmarsh was spotted interfering with one or two. (They had blown over).

This garden was awarded a Silver-Gilt medal.

Jackie Knight’s Just Add Water

A colourful and fun water garden using local stone with a cascade, stepping-stones and a mix of alpines and perennials

I cannot remember the last time I saw a really good rock garden at a big show, I think the time and effort involved in building a garden well might put many off.

This garden was lovely, and easy to see it all from one position, the persistent heavy rain certainly made it look all nice, fresh and clean.

So that was a quick look at the new show, on any normal day the journey would take me about 1 hour 40 mins to drive, so this show has become a ‘local’ show for me.

I’m looking forward to next year’s show already, I think the RHS has certainly got to make some changes to the show layout, and make a better provision with some signage and extreme weather planning, also the traffic situation needs looking as, but as I previously stated I somehow managed to miss all the problems with my journey to the show.


Tickets for RHS Chatsworth 2018 go on sale August 1st. 2017 For RHS Members.
Public Tickets go on sale September 1st. 2017.


For more views and opinions on this years RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, take a look at the blog The Next Square Meter.


4 thoughts on “Wet and Wild at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2017

Add yours

  1. Just wondering, did you encounter a couple of totally pointless individuals wandering around being totally pointless? This seems to be a feature of RHS shows these days.

    Having read loads of reviews of the Chatsworth show, I remain of the opinion that I will avoid any event that has “RHS” anywhere in its title. RHS is the garden centre. Toby Buckland is the independent nursery.


  2. I think if the concept of a garden design needs explanation it has failed, a little like modern art.
    The first year of the RHS show at Cardiff came in for some criticism, it seems successful now.
    Thanks for the tour, I love the area around Chatsworth.


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