What visual designers can learn from this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show

When you work in creative fields, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, looking for inspiration in the usual places: Dribbble, Instagram, Awwwards, etc. But I encourage folks to look outside the usual suspects. My favorite place to find creative inspiration? Gardening!

You know that we love our garden and with that we love Monty Don and Gardner’s World on Britbox. This year we were treated to Britbox broadcasting the RHS Chelsea Garden Show’s nightly wrap-up program (um, we were supposed to get live daytime coverage and a Saturday night show, but they failed to materialize, do better Britbox!). In addition to our love of Carlo Klein’s enthusiasm and amazing poppy dress we thought there were some good trends and ideas for your projects the rest of the year.

The M&G Garden—RHS/ Neil Hepworth ©RHS

The M & G Garden from Andy Sturgeon

The winner of this year’s Best Show Garden, the Gold Medal winning M & G garden by Andy Sturgeon brought a number of lessons to be learned from (besides it being an absolutely amazing piece of work, it is just, wow).

  1. The use of big bold structures, black, and texture creates elegance and drama. The blackened timber sculptures are meant to look like rock formations and lead your eye throughout the garden. The green planting (more about that in a bit) pops against the charcoal, while the texture adds interest to it and doesn’t allow the large structures to swallow up everything.

  2. In this clip you can see how the sculptures came together, I like to think this is a good reminder of the importance of working with people you trust and who you know will bring their best skills to a project. You can see that artist, Johnny Woodford, had the time and space to create something amazing.

  3. In his interview with Joe Swift, Andy talks about the importance of being inspired by what is around you and the design, form, texture and light that is in everything.

Colors (Colours)

It is a flower show, so there are colors everywhere! From the first night’s broadcast though we learned from Monty and Joe that year’s gardens were dominated by shades of green.

But it wasn’t just green, you can how the moody blues, grays and purples are punctuated by flourishes of pink and white. The effect is lovely.

Our favorite Carol highlighted a couple of amazing flowers— The bronze blue of the Iris Sultan’s Palace , the deep purple and sable of the Iris Superstition and the soft pinks of pimpinella major 'Rosea.’

I was inspired by Monty pointing out the use of different shades of yellow planted together, something I would not have thought of using. Tonality can be very powerful indeed!

The whole week was amazing to watch (oh, to have actually been there!). Listening to the designers of the show gardens explain their design brief’s and inspirations was a good reminder of how whether you are working in the soil or digitally working within the parameters of your client is what drives your design. Achieving great results takes working together and a bit of trust.

Sarah MoonComment