Herbs at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 by Ruth Ridley

Spotting herbs at Chelsea

I was lucky enough to get a free ticket to this year’s Chelsea flower show by helping out for a few hours at the Plant Heritage cloakroom.

I absolutely adored all the cottage style plantings in the show gardens, many given a prairie twist by adding grasses into the mix. So for 2014 we have “cottage prairie planting” – not sure if that is an existing name but it should be!

Of course I was on the lookout for herbs in particular on my visit.

jekkas herb farm
Jekka’s Herb Farm was on a busy junction but this didn’t stop the bees finding the borage!

Inside the Great Pavilion there is always so much to see.

downderry lavender
Lavender growers Downderry Nursery were celebrating another gold

Well deserved medals were on display. Hooksgreen Herbs were celebrating their Gold, and business founder and Herb Society treasurer Malcolm Dickson was in great spirits and very pleased with the level of interest the garden had received.

hooksgreen herbs
Hooksgreen Herbs Peter Rabbit Garden

Outside, the show gardens were breathtaking.

telegraph garden with herbs
The Telegraph garden with fennel and borage in the foreground
reachout garden
The Reachout garden planted with rosemary balls in a sea of flowering thyme

My particular favourite, and voted the people’s choice, was the Hope on the Horizon garden designed in support of Help for Heroes, particularly apt in the year we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. I particularly enjoyed the contrast of the billowy catmint and bronze fennel against the granite blocks. Herbs provided a sensory aspect to the garden, purposefully planted close to paths where someone passing might receive a welcome waft of fragrance: I spotted rosemary and thyme planted in this way.

help for heroes garden with herb borders
The Hope on the Horizon garden clockwise from top left: hard landscaping with foxgloves; herbs along a grass path; grasses and irises with granite blocks; dark irises, bronze fennel and catmint

In general throughout the gardens there was a decorative use of herbs as part of a mixed planting. For example fennel was often mixed in with cottage garden plants, thymes used as edging and in stone paths, and lavender in dry areas.

Looking forward to next year already!

Written by Ruth (Social Media Advisor and herb enthusiast).