Greening Grey Britain is an RHS initiative to convert dreary grey and tarmacked spaces into beautiful green and vibrant garden areas.

More and more front gardens are being paved over and have no plants growing in them. The Royal Horticultural Society believes it is important to reverse this trend both in terms of maintaining biodiversity and also to help prevent homes flooding.

Being a “garden feature” and not a “show garden”, the Greening Grey Britain Garden at Chelsea Flower Show wasn’t being judged for a medal. 

But by creating a garden among high rise developments and using the first ever street art wall this garden encourages social interactions and a sense of community and it illustrates how any small urban area can be made into a place of beauty.

However, for the rest of the gardens, Tuesday was what it’s all about, that’s when the medals are awarded.

Crowds viewing one of the many trade stands at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Pictures: Dan Linehan
Crowds viewing one of the many trade stands at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Pictures: Dan Linehan

The award for Best Show Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show this year went to designer James Basson for the M and G Garden which recreated a small bit of the island of Malta in Central London. 

Like many countries, Malta faces environmental challenges in terms of water scarcity and waste disposal The garden is designed to reflect how nature will always adapt to recolonise areas which have been developed and often damaged by man.

James is passionate about designing and creating sustainable landscapes and planting designs. He is a strong advocate of dry gardens and well-known for raising awareness on the importance of working with locally-sourced plants and materials. 

He likes gardens to need little or no human interference, designing spaces which won’t need machines for maintenance or irrigation.

‘The Queen of Hearts’ in the great pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
‘The Queen of Hearts’ in the great pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Proving the point that this Flower Show is not all about nice plants and flowers — rather that it’s about top designers pushing the boundaries — this garden is not pretty, it’s not a garden that you will look at and admire for your own space. 

It’s not that kind of show garden — rather it’s making a statement. Six lorry-loads of Maltese limestone were used to create this replica of a disused quarry.

Basson’s message is that humans need to work to protect the fragile environment of our planet. We need to work with nature instead of against it. His theme is the vulnerability of nature but also how resilient nature can be.

Malta faces environmental challenges and protecting the natural ecosystem with sustainable water disposal, composting practices and recycling are all essential if Malta is to preserve and protect its delicate landscape.

Kildare sisters Patsy Molloy and Elizabeth Donohoe enjoying the great pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Picture Dan Linehan
Kildare sisters Patsy Molloy and Elizabeth Donohoe enjoying the great pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Picture Dan Linehan

Three other gold medals were awarded yesterday, for Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam’s Breaking Ground garden, sponsored by Darwin Property Investment Management Ltd; the Royal Bank of Canada Garden designed by Charlotte Harris; and Darren Hawke’s Linklaters for Maggie’s garden.

More than 170 medals and awards are given at the Chelsea Flower Show.


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