My Chelsea Flower Show preview 2023


by Camilla Ridley

BBC presenter, award winning garden designer and Ridley London dress fan Arit Anderson gives us a sneak preview of this year's Chelsea Flower Show


BBC Chelsea Flower Show presenter, award winning garden designer and Ridley London dress fan Arit Anderson pictured here at Chelsea Flower Show in 2022 wearing her statement made to measure printed floral Sadie swing dress. (Right) Chelsea Flower Show is a celebration of beautiful plants, flowers and nature this year

The theme for this year's Chelsea Flower Show is renewal, and 2023 is looking set to be another really strong year. There some absolutely beautiful gardens on Main Avenue and lots of stunning displays imaginatively bringing this overarching idea to life. If you’re visiting this week, or watching the coverage on the BBC you’re in for a real visual treat!

Chelsea Flower Show really is about inspiring and communicating that gardening is for everyone, while raising the most important issues we all need to take notice of and think about. And there’s a noticeable amount of strong messaging around very topical subjects relating to the idea of positive renewal, like how gardens can improve our environment and support positive health, our relationships with food and our environment, and an overall celebration of nature and plants. For example the amazing Korean Garden showcases an incredible collection of endangered medicinal plants and explains their individual importance and how we really need to look after them.  Likewise  there’s lots of examples about how people are now thinking about the importance of permeability, with permeable pathways being celebrated with the use of gravels and pavers which really helps with sustainability, especially in areas of flooding.


(Clockwise from top left) a sneak preview of Cleve West's amazing deconstructed garden for homeless charity Centrepoint. Arit Anderson trying on one of her new Ridley London printed floral summer dresses for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. (Bottom) One of the beautiful structures and planting in the Horatio Garden

I also absolutely love Mark Gregory’s kitchen garden for Savills, which elegantly combines vegetables and edible plants with ornamental planting to create a really beautiful ‘plot-to-plate’ alfresco dining experience. It really gets one thinking about our gardens, the way we eat and source our food, and demonstrates some brilliant ideas can be introduced into even the smallest of spaces. And Horatio’s garden really shows the value of how gardens therapeutically help people, particularly those with severe spinal injuries. It's a really immersive and restorative haven, a cocooning place for physical and emotional shelter with beautiful stone structures, local Sheffield shrubs and subtle water features. That message of helping people is really resounding throughout this site. 

There's definitely a celebration of plants at this year's Chelsea Flower Show and Sarah Price’s Nurture Landscapes Garden garden for me captures this best. It’s a very painterly garden with the most beautiful palette and a strong naturalistic, bohemian feel. It really is wonderful with stunning Iris’s and grey poppies and all the materials and plants have been sourced as close to the Chelsea Show ground as possible to reduce the garden’s carbon intensity, which is a really positive idea. The planting and colours at Chelsea Flower Show this year are more muted really, and in some cases really celebrating plant leaf and shape. While Chelsea is of course a flower show, it’s nice that it’s not just about the flowers. The plant that seems to be everywhere in the show gardens this year at Chelsea is an Angelica, maybe because some of the flowering has been quite tough this year with the very cool spring that we’ve had. 


(Clockwise from top left) Arit Anderson trying on her new Ridley two-tone London broderie anglais Sadie dress for this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. (Top right) a digital image of Sarah Price's garden for Chelsea Flower Show 2023. (Bottom) One of the beautiful planting details from Sarah Price's show garden

Two Chelsea Flower Show gardens which really push the boundaries are Tom Massey’s garden for the Royal Entomological Society, which is a celebration of insects which is so important when our insect population is being absolutely demolished right now. The garden shows just how remarkable and valuable insects are, with visible insect science taking place inside an insect eye inspired outdoor laboratory. Cleve West’s garden for the homeless charity Centrepoint really challenge visitors to look again. Essentially it’s a deconstruction with nature taking over and slowly restoring and healing a derelict site, including the first time weeds have been actively used in a Chelsea Flower Show garden. It’s also a very visual metaphor for young people facing homelessness, making us think about the importance of a home and really draws attention to the Centrepoint charity and stirs up debate on the issue of homelessness.

The smaller gardens including, the popular balcony gardens, sanctuary gardens and indoor planting studios are none the less impressive and really showcase how to successfully use smaller or interior spaces with lots of take-homes of planting combinations, ingenious layouts and lots of ways of cleverly using recycled materials. And inside the Main Pavilion it looks like it’s coming together and remember it’s not all just about plants and growers. There are lots of smaller show gardens in there which are a really great way for all of the young and up and coming garden designers to ‘cut their teeth’ at Chelsea. And those looks to be very interesting. The floristry studio was still being constructed

Finally a really great bit of news is that the RHS have stipulated that all of the show gardens from now on have to be re-located after each Chelsea Flower Show. This is both sustainable and also means that they can go on to be enjoyed by the public and function as real gardens for years to come. 

Ridley London's new holiday collection of summer dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and knitwear is available to purchase online and in Ridley's Barnes store. Celebrate your individuality this season with a unique piece that's  individually crafted to flatter from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral or solid silks or cottons. Or call us to arrange a virtual fitting: 

Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 0203 3367900

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