It’s back to the future for Chelsea
Flower Shows celebrates it centenary, how has gardening changed in the last century?
The world’s top garden designers will be celebrating 100 years of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2013 with a mixture of old and new, demonstrating the glories of the past and the gardens of the future.
Award- winningChelseastalwartRogerPlatts, whoisdesigning the M& Gshowgarden, Windows Through Time, is aiming to capture the design trends and themes of RHS Chelsea Flower Shows past and present, showing how British garden design has evolved while reflecting many recurring themes that have stood the test of time.
“I believe that the three major reasons driving the development in garden design are everchanging architecture, climate change and lifestyle changes,” says Platts.
“Extremes of weather have tended to kill off some new trends in planting in recent years. It is not long since we were being encouraged to plant drought- tolerant varieties, only to find them frosted or rotted in cold, wet winters.
“It onlytakesacoupleofyears of extreme weather in close succession to remove gardeners’ confidence in certain plants.
“I have always enjoyed growing a wide range of silver- leaved plants but living on heavy soil and having wetterweather, I am reluctant to risk some of these.
“For the average gardener it will alwaysbebesttogrowplants tolerant of a wide range of conditions. For the enthusiast they will always be trying to push the boundaries.”
So, how much have our gardens changed in the last century?
Plantpots- in1913potswould have been made from clay. This then developed to plastic with a recenttrendtowardsbiodegradable materials.
Glasshouses - then heating and propagation for glasshouses and growing frames relied on solid fuel and manure. Nowadays, electricity and bio fuels are used.
Fertilisers - 100 years ago mostfertiliser wasorganic. Over the years chemicals were developedfor use in fertilising. There is nowatrendtoreturningtoorganic fertilisers.
Garden construction materials - then natural timber, stone, clay and iron and aggregates were mainly used. These wouldgenerallyhavebeenlocally sourced. In 2013 we use a very similar range of materials with a fewadditions, suchasplastics, concrete, stainless steel ( invent- ed in 1913) and imported materials such as Indian sandstone.
Plants - varieties we grew in 1913 are similar to what wegrow now but with a wider range today due to sophisticated plant breeding and selection methods. A century ago most were raised in the ground after propagation, being ‘ lined out’ in the field as young plants, hence the term ‘ liners’, which is still used in the nursery trade for young plants prior to final potting
Lawn mowers - were in their infancy 100 years ago. Technology has resulted in garden machinery becoming more widely affordable. The basic principles of cutting grass using a cylinder mower have changed little over the century. Plastics, batterypowered strimmers and the rotary mowermeanthatsmallareas of grass are easier to maintain nowadays.