ISSUE 23  |  Summer Color

A Surprise Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show

June 04, 2012 7:30 PM

BY Kendra Wilson

Although wildflowers are adored in the garden by bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, they don’t usually wrest center stage away from the more traditionally formal plantings at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London–much less win a gold medal.

But garden designer Sarah Price, who is also co-designer of London’s Olympic Park, created a ravishingly pretty meadow at the show this year, using her fine art background to compose the colors, textures, and shapes of her plants into a tangible design that earned a surprise medal. There are groups among her wildflowers and there are individuals, but they never become a mob. She created an immaculate coming together, but away from the Chelsea spotlight this garden would be happy to let its hair down.

N.B.: To read an interview with Sarah Price, go to Garden Design. Photography by Jim Powell.


Above: Sarah Price in her Chelsea garden two Mondays ago.

Above: Photograph via Sarah Price Landscapes.

Sarah uses plants which we would expect to find in English hedgerows but not necessarily at the biggest gardening event of the year. Plantain, should you wish to introduce it into your garden, and red clover can be obtained as seed from Suffolk Herbs for £1 and £1.10 per packet respectively. Refined cow parsley and other umbels can be found at Special Plants near Bath for £2 per packet.

Above: Photograph via Sarah Price Landscapes.

Price has drawn on memories of holidays on Dartmoor in Devon and in the Black Mountains in Wales. “I want to distill some of that atmosphere of being ‘in the moment’ with nature,” she told The Daily Telegraph.


Above: Delicate combinations of thalictrum, persicaria, valeriana, marsh marigold, and royal fern. Good selection of ferns available in the UK from Fernatix.


Above: The grasses and flag iris give a hint of what they can do when they break free from the ruler-straight beds.


Above: Multi-stemmed birch trees provide the solid verticals in this ethereal, wavy garden.


Above: Straight lines and not so straight lines: limestone slabs contrast with the pool edging.


Above: White ragged robin mingling with rough horsetail, which is behaving itself for the moment. Crocus grew the plants for Sarah Price’s Chelsea garden and offer them for sale online; prices vary.