And it’s goodnight from them and goodnight from Crocus….

The gold medal studded veterans, Crocus, leave RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden growing & building on a high with two gold medals and coveted Best in Show.

Mark Fane and Peter Clay Crocus on the 2024 National Garden Scheme Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

As confirmed earlier this year, 2024 marks the final year for Crocus of the build and growing for RHS Chelsea show gardens. Under the watchful eyes of founders Mark Fane and Peter Clay, Crocus have been a steadfast fixture at the event, ever since the company was founded in 2000. Including their 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show awards, during their incredible reign they have accumulated an impressive, 35 gold medals and 13 Best in Show’s – working alongside many of the world’s best designers, such as Tom Stuart-Smith, Dan Pearson, Andy Sturgeon, Cleve West and Sarah Price.

Mark Fane, co-founder of Crocus said “Chelsea is a melting pot of creativity, hard work, horticultural skill and ultimately competitiveness, that has been a central part of my life for 24 years now. In that time we have built a team of incredibly talented people who come together once a year to create something magical, to inspire and delight. There is going to be a gaping hole which I will have to grow used to.”

The Plant Healthy approved, Crocus has grown into the UK’s largest gardening brand. At their Surrey based nursery, they grow and care for over 7,000 different plant varieties – one of the largest plant ranges available online. Their power base, the Crocus website practically dominates UK plant e-commerce and continues to be held in high regard by their customers, very much evident from their Trustpilot scores.

There’s no doubt that being part of RHS Chelsea has been good for the company. Working so closely, and so publicly, with the best designers in the business, has meant that they were always on trend and often the (sole) purveyors of new, lesser-known plants.

Fane has explained that their retraction from Chelsea is for both commercial reasons as show participation is no longer commercially viable, and that it’s simply time to call it a day.

To celebrate their long reign at RHS Chelsea, Crocus are cunningly releasing a series of award-winning Designer border collections, such as their recently launched collections inspired by Sarah Price’s 2023 Nurture Landscape’s Garden and Pollyanna Wilkinson’s 2023 garden celebrating Heroines of Horticulture.

2024 Best in Show

Built by Crocus, the gold medal and Best in Show winning Muscular Dystrophy Forest Bathing Garden is a debut for the designer, Ula Maria. An astonishing feat for the relatively unknown Maria, who won young RHS Garden Designer of the Year in 2017. Her design for the winning garden was inspired by the patterns of muscles under a microscope, and includes 40 silver birch trees that throw a dappled shade across the woodland planting scheme and a split flint wall which forms a dramatic frame that leads the eye through. The garden has been designed to provide a place of much needed solace and reflection for those affected by a muscle wasting condition. Maria’s beautiful garden is a showcase how an immersive, yet accessible garden can offer a place of refuge to patients, their families and clinicians at the time of diagnosis and beyond.

Return of the Maestro

The second 2024 Crocus build, the Tom Stuart-Smith’s National Garden Scheme garden, deservedly awarded with a gold medal, marks the team’s 11th collaboration with Stuart-Smith at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The garden, which will be relocated to Maggie’s at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge focuses on the health and well-being that visiting gardens brings, and features gentle drifts of woodland planting in a calming palette of whites and cream. The design is inspired by Tom Stuart-Smith’s own garden, The Barn at Serge Hill in Hertfordshire, which has opened as part of the National Garden Scheme for over thirty years.

Crocus and Tom Stuart-Smith have a long, trusting partnership. “We have come a long way from Chelsea 2001,” he was quoted as saying in Gardens Illustrated, “where all the Miscanthus we had grown for the show – my bad choice – were very chlorotic, and we couldn’t find any grasses with any height, so we eventually resorted to buying 600 Knifophia Mango Popsicle for the foliage alone. Peter Clay is amazing and indefatigable at finding good plants and never afraid of buying more than we think we might need just in case… Funnily it does seem that often the ‘just in case’ scenario does end up becoming the case.”

Throughout their RHS Chelsea reign, Crocus produced some of the most beautiful and refined show gardens the show has ever seen. Most probably a sentiment echoed amongst fellow garden designers keen to show at RHS Chelsea, Ula Maria remains hopeful that Crocus will return to the show once more. “Working with Crocus to create the Muscular Dystrophy UK Forest Bathing Garden has been a joy. Their profound understanding of the process, their team of highly experienced and talented landscape gardeners and the inspiration, advice and reassurance that Mark and Peter provide has been wonderful. I’m finding it hard to imagine a Chelsea Flower Show without them, but much like Elton John, I’m hoping there’ll be a comeback tour.”