It sits well with the 70th anniversary of the NHS and there are several gardens, big and small, that have a wellbeing message.
Among the most important is the RHS Wisley Feel Good Garden designed by Chelsea People’s Choice Award winner Matt Keightley, who is also designing a health and wellbeing-themed garden at the RHS flagship site in Wisley, Surrey, that will open in 2020.
“The Wisley Feel Good Garden at Chelsea says it all in the title,” says Matt. “I desperately want people to feel good when they see it.
“There are no straight lines; I want visitors to meander slowly through. There are benches to stop and contemplate their surroundings. I want people’s eyes to wander round the planting. And there are deliberate gaps in the planting to give people a view into the garden from the outside.”
Matt’s garden will be given to Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust after the show, for patients cared for at Highgate Mental Health Centre.
Recycling and wellbeing are also two of the main concepts behind Tom Stuart-Smith’s The Weston Garden, which celebrates 60 years of the Garfield Weston Foundation – a grant-giving charity established in 1958 by Canadian Garfield Weston.
Everything in this Great Pavilion garden has been recycled and many of the plants have already featured in previous Chelsea shows, as Stuart-Smith reveals: “I thought, ‘why don’t we try to do a garden where everything is recycled?’. We are giving the paving to somebody else afterwards.
“I went to Crocus [nursery] and saw all these amazing old plants, sitting there like old retired race horses, but they are amazing and many of them will be getting a second outing at Chelsea.”
The Weston Garden has a simple layout, he says, “partly because we only have 10 days to build it” but unlike most of the garden it will be open for the public to walk through, with paths designed for wheelchairs.
“It will be very atmospheric and I have done that because the paths are quite wide and I want to compensate with lushness,” says Stuart-Smith, who has used topiary, irises and rare plants from places like Taiwan.
Tom Massey is making his RHS Chelsea debut with The Lemon Tree Trust Garden, based on a communal garden created by Syrian refugees in northern Iraq to provide them with food and improve their wellbeing.
“People show ingenuity to create gardens in limited space,” says Massey. “It is often the first thing they do to remind them of home, with sense and sound.
“Their gardens are a place to escape. Plants have a strong sensory nature and can transport people, take them out of those harsh environments.
“Gardens and gardening transcends cultures everywhere in the world. People want to be around beautiful spaces. That is something that, no matter where you are from, people can relate to.”