Chelsea Pensioners Garden

After decades of hosting the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Hospital Chelsea's residents have finally had a garden made in their honour. The garden was a mix of all the things the old soldiers missed about England when away at war.

Unsurprisingly then, the garden was a jigsaw puzzle romantic notion of 'Blighty' (England). A crumbling thatched country pub led out onto a patio, vegetable plot and pond. Foxgloves, roses and a horse chestnut tree grew tall around the pub.


At the far end of the garden was a field of poppies, remembering those lost in the wars. Sadly, only a fraction of the 500 poppies were in bloom, a common problem at Chelsea this year because of the unusually cold month preceding the flower show.

The garden won Best in Show for garden designer Julian Dowle (who returned despite 'retiring' last year - perhaps because he didn't want to retire on last year's silver medal...?). Whether this award was deserved was hotly debated by the watching crowd, but no-one was surprised by the choice, politically speaking.


Although perhaps not a radical design, I really enjoyed the garden and its intricate detail. Every nook and cranny was packed with realistic touches, like the bicycle, bunting and broken fence.

The 'Dig for Victory' vegetable patch was reminiscent of the hardships of the time, and a real Chelsea Pensioner was on hand in his red coat uniform to add authenticity. And, typical of the experienced garden designer's high standard, the planting in the garden looked as fitting and settled as the thatch.

Here are all the rest of the pictures taken in this gold-medal winning Chelsea Flower Show garden. Click on a thumbnail to see a full screen picture.