Call me biased, but the Manchester garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show genuinely was my favourite of this year’s contenders. Designed by our friends over at Exterior Architecture (who we're currently working with at Broughton House), the garden subtly references the myriad elements that make Manchester special, but above all these contribute to just a really beautiful garden. The hard landscaping is elegant, featuring a refined local sandstone carefully integrated with a sculpture by Lazerian that references the city’s manufacturing heritage, from cotton to graphene. Running along the path edge are a pair of parallel channels funnelling water to the main pool, mimicking the canals that wend their way around this part of the world.
And then there’s the plants. I’ve never been to Chelsea before, but apparently this year there was a lot more ‘green’ than previously… Manchester’s garden certainly felt lush and verdant, with tiny beacons of purple pinpricking every viewpoint, solitary lupins popping up at key moments and amazing vibrant irises. The trees were selected for their resilience to climate change (plane, pine, hazel, dawn redwood, locust and mountain ash), and each represents one of the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester, selected in partnership with Manchester’s City of Trees initiative, which aims to plant a tree for every resident within a generation.
It's just a shame that you can’t go in it… visitors are sadly restricted to viewing from the sidelines! But rest assured, in line with the garden’s zero waste strategy, all the composite parts will be relocated to gardens around Manchester, most notably Wytheshawe Hall, which will reopen this year following restoration after an arson attack. So there will be an opportunity to get in amongst these beautiful plants after all.