Without a doubt, the positive impact of plants on our health and wellbeing is a prominent theme for this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and reflects the millions who have found solace in the garden during the pandemic. Many gardens will also be taking inspiration from foreign landscapes. In a year where international travel is limited, these gardens will transport visitors to faraway destinations. For Moorcroft, our own RHS Chelsea Flower Show design, Ranelagh Gardens, by Moorcroft’s senior designer, Rachel Bishop, allows us to be inspired by a bygone time. The design comes as a prestige vase and a plaque, both limited to only 15 pieces.
The world’s greatest flower show will be held for the first time ever under hazy autumnal skies and with such a seasonal change, the door opened to new possibilities. In truth, such seasonal Chelsea oddities and rarities, will, no doubt, be cherished and highly collectable in years to come. For Moorcroft, its new position in the autumn calendar provided our senior designer with a plethora of garden inspiration never seen before at Chelsea. Autumn is usually associated with the maturing of the calendar year, but for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show it comes as a refreshing and revitalising opportunity. Autumn is the new spring! Rachel’s design bursts with the flaming colours of Dahlia 'Bishop's Children' - dahlias of burgundy and gold nestled amongst lagoon-blue salvia. The bouquet culminates with wild grasses and beautyberries, Callicarpa bodinieri, dashing to and fro in the excitement.
Also new to this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, are the much anticipated new category called ‘Sanctuary Gardens’. These will be bigger than the Artisan Gardens and smaller than the Show Gardens. One of Rachel’s flowers, Bishop’s Children, would have also worked well in one of these new Sanctuary Gardens from the Bible Society. Sarah Eberle’s Psalm 23 Garden is a garden for our time, a garden for a pandemic. The famous psalm speaks of God’s presence with us in all moments of life. Sarah’s garden, designed for Bible Society, takes us on a journey through the psalm to a restful destination. We hope it will resonate with every design Moorcroft creates that is inspired by our beautiful, natural world.
Interestingly, the design’s namesake stems from Ranelagh Gardens, the public pleasure gardens located in Chelsea in the 18th century, now part of the grounds of Chelsea Hospital and the site of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Ranelagh Gardens was built on a site east of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the location of a house built for Lord Ranelagh in the 1690s. The Gardens boasted acres of formal gardens with long sweeping avenues, down which pedestrians strolled together on balmy summer evenings. Other visitors came to admire the Chinese Pavilion, or watch the fountain of mirrors and attend musical concerts held in the great 200-foot wide Rotunda.
The land was acquired by a syndicate led by James Lacy, lessee of the Drury Lane Theatre, and Sir Thomas Robinson MP. The centrepiece of the gardens was the rotunda, modelled on the Roman Pantheon, but larger in size. Built by William Jones, a surveyor to the East India Company, it was heated by a central fireplace with an orchestra, an organ, on which the eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mozart played in 1764, and 52 candlelit boxes around the walls where guests could take refreshments. Once admitted crowds could promenade around the central fireplace. One can only imagine the fiery flames of red and amber leaping into the air to add warmth to the autumnal palette in much the same way as Rachel’s fired earth in Ranelagh Gardens sings out triumphantly today!