THE RHS Chelsea flower show returned in all its glory. And after last year’s delayed show featuring the colours of autumn, the May show was once again full of our favourite shades of an English summer.

The Queen’s Platinum jubilee was celebrated in style with the Simon Lycett foliage silhouette of Her Majesty surrounded by 70 hand-thrown pots planted with lily of the valley. The scent of her favourite flowers permeated the entrance to the Grand Pavillion.

The show gardens were sensational, immaculate in design and construction.

The William Morris Garden was influenced by his own use of flowers and nature. The pavilion and water channels included design features from his Willow Boughs design.

WIN: Oxford Times Garden of the Year competition

The show stopper garden was the Medite smartply Building the Future garden designed by Sarah Eberle. The high waterfall cascading into a broad pond surrounded by shade and damp loving plants gave a cool green backdrop to the rich colours in the sunny foreground. The attention to detail was immense and peeping round the back in an even shadier area there were more ferns and sarcococca (winter box) to give a 360 degree design.

Oxford Mail: The Building the Future garden designed by Sarah Eberle. Picture by David Bingley

St Mungo’s is a charity that helps homeless people gain confidence and skills through practical gardening. It’s garden was aptly called ‘Putting Down Roots’. St Mungo’s is working together with Cityscapes to transform lives, communities and places. Many of the features were made using recycled material and the bright colours draw you into a communal area in the shade of established trees.

The pink, yellow and orange planters were arranged along the pathways and include some interesting water features. It will be a wonderful place to escape the pressures of urban life when the garden moves to its final home

Serious but fun was the ‘Rewilding Britain’s Landscape’ garden, showing the effects of reintroducing a native keystone species – the beaver – into the Somerset Levels. The designers built a beaver dam and lodge with a viewing hut above the resulting pond.

The willows, silver birch and hawthorn shaded the mass of British native plants used to show how a habitat can change following the activities of beavers. I waited a long time but sadly no beavers emerged. The garden was a well deserved Gold Medal winner.

Oxford Mail: Chelsea Flower Show 2022. By David Bingley - The Gold Medal winning Rewilding Britain Garden

Readers of a certain age will remember John Noakes working in the Blue Peter garden. To inspire the current generation of young people, Blue Peter is getting a new garden.

The theme is ‘discover soil’ and its message is ‘don’t treat soil like dirt’

It will now be moved to the RHS Garden Bridgewater for everyone to visit. It is a tiered garden so many of the features are at eye level with easy access to the different areas. It features composting and food crop growing and has a subterranean observation area.

The themed art projects that are on display were created by the young people of Salford. It was great to see past and present Blue Peter presenters getting so excited about the project – surely it will encourage tomorrow’s gardeners and growers.

The Great Pavillion was full of a mixture of plants from nursery growers and seed producers, science in the Discovery section and the RHS plant and gadget of the year displays. It also featured a Floral art and photo gallery.

The RHS Floral Gallery featured two competition classes: a Table decoration and Through a Window. The winner of the Through a Window class was Jane Belcher from Abingdon, who constructed a pollinators’ dream. Viewing through a series of hexagonals Jane had a meadow of mainly native flowers including cornflowers, geum, allium and oxeye daisies all ready to be pollinated. The intricate ‘bees’ with their sycamore seed wings emphasise the extraordinary attention to detail that helped Jane win such a prestigious award, for the second time.

Oxford Mail: Chelsea Flower Show 2022. By David Bingley - 5 Jane Belchers Through a Window winning entry.

Fascinating was a Discovery area, which informed viewers about bumble bee conservation, the mental health benefits of gardening to young people and how we can all conserve our native plants with the Plant Heritage Society.

Once again the Birmingham City garden was spectacular, celebrating the arrival of the Commonwealth Games to the city at the end of July. The stand contained a very wide range of plants giving a colour palate that changed as you walked round the garden, with the planting complementing the clever sculptures depicting the games’ sports.

Oxford Mail: Chelsea Flower Show 2022. By David Bingley -6 Birmingham City Council stunning display of flowers and Commonwealth Games sculptures

The Balcony and Container Gardens became a feature in the 2021 show and was repeated this year. It was a wonderful addition to the show. The designs and construction was done mainly by young people and they produced stunning ideas for small spaces and balconies. The idea of being able to transport your garden when it is time to move home, is bound to encourage younger people and those who rent, to invest their time and effort into a growing space.

The idea of planting perennials as well as fruit and vegetables in containers showed just what could be achieved with a little thought and time.

The Sanctuary Gardens were varied and thought provoking with concepts to challenge our everyday lives and lifestyles. Many of the gardens contain elements and familiar plants we can include in our own green spaces. The foxgloves in dappled shade, the verbascum in full sun, the strategically placed lupins to add that splash of colour and of course the majestic peony – a perennial favourite.

Heading for the Artisan gardens along the Ranelagh Gardens walk brought us to the House Plant Studios. A wide range of garden rooms with ideas for us all, The plant Clinic and The Edible Garden – were worth a look, the latter providing food for thought.

Arriving at the smaller Artisan gardens, the first was Ice Garden, a massive block of ice cubes designed to melt through Chelsea week to simulate the effects of global warming. We were reminded that within the melting permafrost scientists have discovered seeds buried over 30,000 years ago.

Back along Royal Hospital Way were the larger sanctuary gardens. The RAF Benevolent Fund Garden contained the latticed steel sculpture of a young RAF fighter pilot looking to the skies and waiting to be called back to his plane to join the Battle of Britain. The garden seating and sculpture is to be relocated to Biggin Hill in time to commemorate Battle of Britain Day this September.

Oxford Mail: Chelsea Flower Show 2022. By David Bingley - The RAF Benevolent Fund Garden with the young airman sculpture

I loved the Swiss Sanctuary – a garden representing the Alps with the pulsatillas, saxifrages, edelweiss and other shallow soil plants showing their colours among the boulders and pools of the mountains.

Finally, mention must go to the BBC Studios’ Green Planet and RHS Bee Garden designed by Joe Swift. As a beekeeper myself, I am so aware of the importance of urban gardens for our bees to forage in.

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The planting of pollen and nectar-rich flowers highlighted the urgent help our bees need to survive. A stone bee wing silhouette and seating in the shaded communal space brought the shared needs of our bees and community together. It is always good to see the number of bumble bees who find the temporary food supply of Chelsea each year.

The last day of the show saw many of the nursery stands selling off their display plants – an the perennial problem of how to a six foot-tall delphinium home on the train after an impulse buy!

For details of other RHS shows this summer, go to

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