May 9, 2013

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Jo Thompson’s Show Garden for Fera

Today, I’m delighted to feature a show garden which Jo Thompson has designed for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

You may remember that I followed Jo’s journey to Chelsea in 2012?


Last Thursday, Jo and her team from The Outdoor Room were on Main Avenue in the show ground, starting to turn the plans into reality.

They have less than two weeks to create the garden which is called ‘Stop the Spread’.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show – Show Garden 

The show garden has been commissioned by the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera).  It will contrast the beauty of a British garden with the potential damaging effects pest and plant diseases could have on our natural environment.

Measuring 10m by 12m, it includes a beautiful sunken garden featuring herbaceous planting, and a sculpture is bordered by quintessential woodland trees and lush shade-loving planting.

This is contrasted with a symbolic avenue of bare and lifeless trees, an island holding a single seedling in a black pool and garden walls covered with an intricate pattern that contains a hidden message.


Here are some more details about Jo’s design:

Living Trees

There will be six living trees…oak, elm, horse chestnut, silver birch, field maple and London plane supplied by Hillier Nurseries Ltd.

Lifeless Trees

The lifeless trees will be supplied by Bedgebury National Pinetum.


The herbaceous planting, supplied by Kelways Plants Ltd, will be selected from a palette of mainly blue, white and yellow including Filipendula vulgarisHesperis matronalisLigusticum lucidumSilene fimbriataSesli gummiferumTrifolium ochroleuchronTanacetum niveumGeranium gravetyeIris sibirica, and Nepeta Walker’s Low.

Jo said :

‘This is my fourth show garden at Chelsea and so I should know better. But each time, it’s the plants that I worry about.

The exceptionally cold winter means that many of the taller plants I want to use, like the Umbellifers, are short.

I will have a dynamic plan ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ up my sleeves to get the look I want.’ 


The sculpture, designed by Tom Stogdon, will be made up of individual pieces of slate. And it will frame a beautiful silver birch from one side and a lifeless tree from the other.


Do look out for this beautiful wooden bench which will be making an appearance…


I very much look forward to seeing Jo’s show garden later this month…


If you’re wondering what you can do to help ‘Stop the Spread’:

Sourcing plants:

  • When buying new plants, check that they’re healthy
  • Buy UK-grown plants where possible
  • Avoid bringing plants or cuttings home from holidays abroad
  • Preferably plant small and enjoy watching your garden grow

Good gardening:

  • Prevent your plants escaping from your garden
  • Keep your gardening equipment and outdoor footwear clean
  • Dispose of garden and pond plants responsibly

Chelsea in Bloom

As well as creating a garden for Fera, Jo will also be keeping an eye on her other ‘garden’.

She’s been asked by Peter Jones to design their Chelsea in Bloom window.

Jo will be taking inspiration from her show garden, filling the window with woodland and native plants such as ferns, ox-eye daisies and cow parsley.  I can’t wait to see it!

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog post. Do look out for Jo on the BBC as she’s done a red button interview. And she will be doing an RHS 30 min podcast interview.

In the meantime, you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

P.S. You may like to read an interview I featured with Jo earlier this year. 

(Images : Jo Thompson)

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