Most people attending this year’s Chelsea will struggle not to notice the abundance and progression of naturalistic plantings. Referring to his own design for the Telegraph Garden, Andy Sturgeon referred to it as “a captured landscape” and this same phrase could be adapted to more than a handful of other gardens. The association with Dan Pearson’s re-imagining of the Trout Stream at Chatsworth, which won ‘Best in Show’ in 2015, is clear; ‘big stone’ has already become one of this year’s catchphrases. There is something basic - almost caveman-like - in these designers who haul their monoliths around such restrictively small sites. The recreation of landscape is problematic at a garden show but I found myself enchanted. Derivative some may be but the effect of these gardens is impressive and in some cases transportative.
Below are four gardens at the front edge of this trend. Within this proliferation of rugged landscapes however, a niche has been carved out for something quieter, less ambitious and arguably more conventional. A garden that is comfortable with being a garden.
1 Hugo Bugg (Royal Bank of Canada)