Chelsea Flower Show 2016: Seven spectacular displays

The sun came out on cue for Chelsea Flower Show, the biggest gardening event of the year, which is on all this week. Set in the stunning grounds of Royal Chelsea Hospital, the sumptuous colours of thousands of flowers and the lush greenery of exotic plants shone brightly. ACHICA Living spent the morning exploring, chatting to garden designers and experts and admiring the stunning and eccentric garden designs on display. For inspiration for your own outdoors arrangement or ideas for a show-stopping garden centre-piece, we’ve pulled together the seven best gardens we saw at Chelsea.

1. The Harrods British Eccentrics Garden
Complete with rotating trees, a folly house and a live quartet led by the Chelsea Pensioners, the Harrods Garden designed by Diarmuid Gavin has a very royal and traditionally British feel: the perfect entrance to Chelsea Flower Show.
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2. Cloudy Bay Garden
Directly next door to the Harrods Garden, the Cloudy Bay installation by landscape designer Sam Ovens is distinctly different in character: contemporary, serene and minimalist it evokes the feel of a Japanese water garden than an English tea garden. The garden is inspired by Cloudy Bay’s 30-year wine-making heritage in New Zealand; the primary material is western red cedar timber, surrounded by heathers, pines and grasses.
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3. One Small Step Garden 
This garden, designed by Birmingham City Council is an explosion of colour. Each area is intricately thought out, from a viewing scope through which we can see a figure of Hussain Bolt engraved on a needle celebrating the work of local artist Willard Wigan and grass root sports in Birmingham, to the gradual colour changes of the flowers culminating in a red and purple display for the Queen.
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4. Phillip Johnson's Poppies
Thousands of crocheted poppies carpet the grounds outside the magnificent Royal Hospital. Phillip Johnson was winner of Best Show Garden in 2013; the poppies have been created by people from ages 2 to 102 years old.
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5. Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital
This feature garden is a preview of a garden design before it is transferred to its permanent location at Great Ormand Street Hospital. The new garden will provide a much needed, private and reflective space for parents and families of the children undergoing treatment at the hospital.
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6. Behind Every Great Florist: Part 1
The Queen's head is in bloom at New Covent Garden Flower Market's display. Walk around this colourful and striking sculptural flower arrangement to find a grand display of lush greenery on the other side. Nothing better than a garden with surprises.
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7. Belmond British Pullman train
Bowdens has created a central monument within the Great Pavilion. The Devon-based multi-RHS Gold medal-winning nursery has a planted-up a train station as its display featuring a 25m-long carriage from 1920s Belmond British Pullman. Take a look at the surrounding gardens from inside this luxury vintage carriage, reminding us that RHS Chelsea Flower Show's origins were at the beginning of last century in 1912...

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Annabel Sheen

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