Take a look around the stunning show gardens at the 2018 RHS Flower Show Cardiff, and discover which won the ‘Best Show Garden’ award.
The first major event of the gardening calendar took place recently, when Bute Park in Cardiff played host to the RHS Garden Show Cardiff 2018.
I had never been to this show before, so I was really happy to be given the chance to cover the event. Mark and I travelled down to Cardiff to take a look around the show, which is full of horticultural inspiration, family fun, and much more.
Because there’s so much to see at an RHS Show, I’ve decided to split my coverage up into three different posts.
This post will cover the beautiful show gardens, then the second post in the series will take you on a tour through the Floral Marquees. Then the final post will round up all the other sights and attractions at the show.
It was very interesting to see how this show differs from the gardening shows that I’ve attended later in the year. The weather in April is quite changeable, which must make it very hard to plan a show garden. I definitely thought that the show gardens at Cardiff were quite different to the ones that you tend to see in the summer months.
These tended to be more architectural in design, with more hard landscaping and more evergreen planting, compared to the more floral style of the summer shows.
The RHS awards medals at its events as a mark of excellence. They are judged by a highly experienced panel, who award four grades of medal: Gold, Silver-Gilt, Silver and Bronze. There’s no limit to the number of medals that can be awarded, and if a display is judged to be below Bronze standard, no medal is awarded.
Let’s take a look around…
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The Show Gardens
These gardens showcase the landscaper’s craft through innovative design and beautiful planting.
Evergreenwales: Cwm Caerdydd
Designed by Adam Davis and Richard Davis
This garden is a a beautiful representation of the local Cardiff landscape in miniature. Mark and I both liked this design, which was awarded a Silver medal by the RHS judges.
The design features a ‘cwm’ seating area, waterfall and steps leading up to a rocky outcrop. It has been created as a space to relax and enjoy time with the family.
The planting features both wild planting and garden cultivars, and the garden imitates an area of woodland and the rolling hills of South Wales.
The designers have focused not just on the sense of sight, touch, smell and hearing, but also on how the garden makes you feel.
Designed by Petra Kodurant & Josef Lamburn
The designers of Suburban Euphoria have drawn inspiration from the RHS Greening Grey Britain campaign. This is a contemporary design, full of practical and attractive ways to attract wildlife to a typical front garden.
The design aims to benefit the enviroment and increase biodiversity in a suburban garden. It features soft curves as well as clearly defined hard landscaping and planting areas.
The vertical planting on the pergola, living fences and integrated insect habitats are all ideas that you could easily incorporate into your own garden at home.
The RHS judges awarded a Bronze medal to this garden. I really liked the design of Suburban Euphoria, although Mark and I both felt that the execution of the design let it down a little.
Designed by Mike Furse
Mark and I spent a long time discussing Disequilibrium, which won a Silver medal from the RHS judges.
Mark has been involved in cultivating Bonsai trees for over 20 years, and it’s a subject that is very close to his heart. So he was very interested when he saw this garden on the Show preview guide.
It’s a representation of Japanese ‘nature’ in horticulture, with bonsai, spring flowers and intricate stone patterns. These contrast against the corrugated iron backdrop and charred timber which represent Japan’s industrial history.
The garden tells a story of motion and stillness, and nature’s resilience in the face of an industrial environment. We loved the design when we saw it on paper in the show preview. But we both felt that it didn’t quite work as well as we hoped in real life.
Bonsai generally seeks to place trees in a setting that imitates the tree’s natural environment. Mark pointed out that the white flowered Fuji Cherry tree was out of place in this setting. And I also noticed that the tree at the back has very visible wiring.
These may be minor points to many people. But for us, they spoilt what is overall a very imaginative garden design.
The Regeneration Gardens
The Regeneration Garden category is a new feature at the show this year. In this category, the designers are recent landscape architecture graduates. They have been challenged to create gardens featuring unexpected materials and practical ideas.
The Reflection in the Past Garden
Designed by Shin Myungia
A childhood memory of playing in an old bathtub in the backyard in Korea inspires this design. Shin Myungia has cleverly repurposed everyday items to create a fun garden.
The bubbles have been engraved into the hard landscaping and the bathtub is represented in the garden furniture.
I really love the planting in this garden, which includes a beautiful cherry tree, synonymous with Eastern gardens.
The rest of the garden features clipped box and pyracantha hedges, red switch grass and beautiful soft hellebores. I think this is a beautiful design, and it won a Bronze medal from the RHS judges.
The Reimagined Past
Designed by Pam Creed
Overall, I think this is my favourite of the gardens at RHS Cardiff 2018. It champions the ideas of Victorian garden designer William Robinson. He rejected the elaborate planting schemed which were popular in the Victorian era, in favour of the ‘wild garden.
His designs only used sustainable perennials, and his ecologically sound principles are still relevant a century later.
Alongside the sustainable planting, this garden includes quirky features like walls built from reclaimed materials.
I love the use of the fireplace and sink in the design, and the reclaimed drain covers in the paving.
The offset inner area of this design represents the more formal style of Victorian garden design. And the softer, more flowing planting at the corners displays perennials that thrive in South Wales.
Urban Regeneration Garden
Designed by Millie Souter
The final garden in this round up provoked the most discussion between Mark and I!
We have very different preferences when it comes to garden design. And while Mark tends to prefer minimalist design in general, I love softer, less formal designs.
But we both agreed that the Urban Regeneration Design is very striking, and apparently so did the RHS Judges. Not only did they award this design a Gold Medal, it also won the Best Show Garden and Best Construction awards.
The designer has found imaginative ways to use inexpensive materials in this garden design. The water tanks that form the main feature in this design were actually found while out walking!
The hard landscaping has an industrial, almost Brutalist, appearance. Mark really liked this design, and while I generally prefer less hard landscaping, I do have a soft spot for Brutalist architecture.
Grasses and herbaceous planting soften the industrial hard landscaping and rain bonded gravel floor. And several tall mulberry trees add contrast to the vertical aspect of the garden.
The garden was very well executed, so it’s quite easy to see how this design won both of the main awards.