RHS Chelsea: 'I couldn't be happier,' says Mark Gregory

Olivia Heath
Photo credit: Welcome to Yorkshire

From House Beautiful

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019 is coming to an end and Mark Gregory has succeeded once again – completing his 99th Chelsea garden and winning a Gold medal for his Welcome to Yorkshire garden for the second consecutive year. Read Mark's final post in this exclusive blog on HouseBeautiful.com/uk

5. Golden moments of Chelsea 2019

What a week this has been, we wanted to deliver something extraordinary and I hope that we’ve achieved that, and the people have spoken as we’ve also been awarded the BBC People’s Choice Award.

I want to thank everyone that voted for us, I couldn’t be happier. It’s such an honour to receive this accolade again and to have been able to share the place I call home with the world is a privilege. It seems that people love Yorkshire as much as I do!

The reaction from everyone has been humbling, we’ve had tears – of the good kind, we’ve had a proposal – she said yes, and so far, no one has fallen in the canal either!

This garden was a huge team effort, and after building 99 gardens, I’m pretty sure that it’s probably not possible to achieve anything more in 18 days. A standout for me is getting feedback from my peers, hearing from friends and colleagues in the industry and hearing that the feedback is positive. I thought it might be a good idea to look back over the week and reminisce on who we’ve welcomed to Yorkshire…

Alan Titchmarsh is as close to gardening royalty as you get and he was so generous with his comments about the garden, and as a fellow Yorkshireman, his praise meant an awful lot.

We welcomed both Dame Joan Collins and Dame Judy Dench onto the garden, as well as keen gardeners and fellow Yorkshireman, Jim Carter and his wife Imelda Staunton.

Brendan Cole joked with his wife but we all knew she was in a safe pair of hands, while Hollywood A-lister Stanley Tucci loved the garden and said it was like stepping into another world.

The Chelsea Flower Show 2019 was definitely one of the greenest, both in colour and sentiment, of my 31 years. It’s clear that we are – quite rightly – starting to pay more attention to our environment and realise that we share our space with creatures great and small, and we need to take them into account when we’re making choices for our gardens.

One of the highlights of my build was when we brought the large field maple (Acer campestre) onto site. It must have had aphids on it because the birds went crazy for it – we had to leave them to have their fill before we could put it in place because they wouldn’t leave it alone.

Photo credit: Rachel Warne
Photo credit: Rachel Warne
Photo credit: Rachel Warne
Photo credit: Rachel Warne
Photo credit: Rachel Warne
Photo credit: Rachel Warne

One of the themes this year for Chelsea was ‘Back to Nature’ and this was evident in the choices designers had made with their planting schemes.

PRIDE OF PLACE

Weeds are rarely given centre stage but this year changed all of that. I was not alone in championing native species in the Welcome to Yorkshire garden – I was joined by fellow designers Andrew Duff (Savills and David Harber) and Laurelie de la Salle (Harmonious Garden of Life), who also showcased plants that are more usually earmarked for the compost heap.

Photo credit: Rachel Warne

LIVING GREEN

Chelsea 2019 was more than just green in its approach to nature, the overriding colour was without doubt green. Gone was the plethora of jewel like colours of 2017 and 2018 and a more serene colour scheme took over; shades of green with highlights of lemon, lime and cream. Andy Sturgeon’s M&G garden was a masterclass in this and also provided interest by creating outstanding combinations of plants with contrasting texture and form.

Photo credit: RHS/Neil Hepworth

YELLOW FEVER

Lupins are still a Chelsea favourite but in more muted tones with pale lemons and creams such as Lupinus ‘Gallery Yellow’ or ‘Chandelier’ alongside the rich cream of Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’. The zing of Mathiasella bupleuroides and vibrancy of Euphorbia palustris were popular, and it seems that still no Chelsea garden is complete without a smattering of Ammi majus or Orlaya grandiflora.

SOFTLY SOFTLY

Hard landscaping definitely took a back seat this year and softer more natural structures featured once more. The sinuous curve of Tom Hoblyn’s Dubai Majlis garden was stunning, as well as the packed earth paths in the M&G garden.

Photo credit: RHS/Neil Hepworth

ARCHITECTURAL

The architecture was brought through the planting with the stately Angelica archangelica taking a star turn on a number of gardens to great effect. One featured in the veg patch next to the Lock Keeper’s Lodge on Welcome to Yorkshire, and they wended their way through both Jo Thompson’s Wedgwood garden and Paul Hervey-Brookes' Art of Viking garden, and were used as statement plants on Kate Gould’s Greenfingers Charity garden.

Photo credit: Rachel Warne

Architectural trees were also aplenty with Cedrus atlantica and Sequoia sempervirens on the Wedgwood garden, Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzles) on both Sarah Eberle’s Resilience Garden and Jonathan Snow’s Undiscovered Latin America garden, and the standout tree of the show was without doubt the Pinus nigra on Chris Beardshaw’s Morgan Stanley garden.

AND FINALLY…

Thoughts do turn to what happens next at this point and I’m really pleased to say that the beautiful field maple, as well as some of the other trees will be heading back up to Yorkshire to a new home at Grantley Hall in Ripon, and all the plants will be used on other upcoming projects. The lodge may also have found a new home too as we had a very esteemed guest who fell in love with it. It’s wonderful to think that the garden is going to live on elsewhere, not just in our memories and hearts.

We also turn our attention, believe it or not, to next year – and my centenary garden. I’ve got something bubbling and as soon as I can share it, I will.

*Video by Grey Moth

CATCH UP...

Read Mark's previous blog entries here:

  1. Welcome to Yorkshire in SW3
  2. Breaking ground
  3. Planting tips for the Chelsea look
    1. 99 Chelsea gardens to learn and grow from


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