The ‘Best in’ Awards: 2024 RHS Chelsea

The top spots; Best in Show, Best Construction, Best Sanctuary, Best Balcony & Container and Best All About Plants Awards, for the 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show have been announced.

Muscular Dystrophy Garden at the RHS Chelsea Show Garden by Ula Maria
Muscular Dystrophy UK Forest Bathing Garden

According to the RHS Chair of Show Garden Judges Liz Nicholson, “This has been one of the toughest years to judge, with exemplary designs and much to enjoy in design detailing. There are some fantastic narratives and storytelling amongst the gardens”

The coveted ‘Best in’ awards, including Best Construction and Best Great Pavilion exhibit for the 2024 RHS Chelsea Flower Show awards are as follows:

Best in Show: Muscular Dystrophy UK Forest Bathing Garden – Ula Maria

The Muscular Dystrophy UK Forest Bathing Garden was designed to inspire the ancient Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing” to reconnect with nature through the senses. The garden features a central hub with sculptural flint walls, a 40 tree birch grove and a water rill, providing a sheltered, social space.

Ula Maria is a London based, garden and landscape designer, specialising in creating distinctive outdoor spaces for private and commercial clients in the UK and overseas. Reflected in her designs, Maria has an innate connection with nature originating from her childhood spent in her family’s countryside home, surrounded by rural Lithuanian landscape – wildflower meadows, pine forests, wild streams, and rivers.

The Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden is Maria’s debut entry at RHS Chelsea. Maria was previously awarded RHS Young Designer of the Year at the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park 2017 which helped launch her career in garden design.

RHS Chair of Show Garden Judges, Liz Nicholson said: “Ula’s design is a wonderful slice of forest edge brought to the heart of the RHS Chelsea showground. It is immersive, relaxing and calming. Its use of flint, which is a difficult material to work with, is notable, creating possibly the biggest insect habitat I’ve ever seen. Coupled with faultless planting to make an innovative, artistic, and precise garden, it is a clear winner.”

Best Show Garden Construction Award: Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden – Yoreland Design Ltd

Designed by Matthew Childs and built by Yoreland Design Ltd, the Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge Garden is reminiscent of the flooded base of a rejuvenated quarry landscape. The garden features complicated, water level rises and falls, revealing monolith slate stepping stones bridge and large boulders balanced precariously from on the boundary, which look as if about to fall.

Yoreland Design has more than 20 years experience within the landscaping and garden design industry, having constructed nine show gardens at both RHS Chelsea and RHS Hampton Court Flower Shows.

Best Sanctuary Garden: Burma Skincare Initiative Spirit of Partnership Garden – Helen Olney

Designed by Helen Olney, the Burma Skincare Initiative Spirit of Partnership Garden tells the story of a global dermatological partnership which supports Burmese healthcare workers treating adults and children with terrible skin conditions. All of the plants featured on the garden are found in Myanmar and grow happily in the UK.

A graduate of the London College of Garden Design, Helen Olney has over 20 years’ experience in digital design which she has cunningly combined with her love of plants and nature to establish a successful career in garden design.

Best Santuary Garden Construction Award: The Boodles Garden – Gadd Brothers Trees and Landscapes

The Boodles Garden, designed by Catherin MacDonald celebrates 200 years of the National Gallery, bringing the spirit of significant artworks to the Chelsea Flower Show. Themed ‘art in nature’ the planting scheme, topiary, sculptural metal arches and water features are inspired or represent aspects of specific paintings and art movements, including Pointillism and Impressionism.

Established in 2009 by brothers James and Will Gadd, Gadd Brothers family business is based in Bury St Edmunds. The brothers provide professional landscaping and tree surgery services for both private as well as commercial clients.

Best Balcony & Container Garden: The Ecotherapy Garden – Tom Bannister

Designed by Tom Bannister, the Ecotherapy Garden is a representation of a small London courtyard, featuring a hanging green garden that aligns with biophilic principles of people’s innate attraction to nature. The cold plunge pool envelopes the lush, green planting reflect in the water.

A graduate of the London College of Garden Design, Bannister Studio is a small, London based garden design practice that specialises in sophisticated designs that reflect the characteristics of their location.

Best All About Plants Garden: The Size of Wales Garden – Dan Bristow

Designed by Dan Bristow, The Size of Wales Garden is inspired by the abundance and diversity of life that occurs in the tropical forests of the world, and the work that Size of Wales are doing to prevent the tragedy of its destruction. The garden features an impressive, 313 plant species, reflecting the number of tree species that can occur in just one hectare of tropical forest.

Studio Bristow, set up in 2008 specialises in bold and playful, gardens and landscapes. Designing for the long term, Bristow has an extensive knowledge of plants and is known for often using rare species to suit specific locations.

Best Exhibit in the Great Pavilion: Leon Kluge Garden Design (Cape Flora of South Africa)

Leon Kluge is a landscape designer, botanist, presenter and writer based in Franschhoek, South Africa. Under his direction the Cape Flora of South Africa exhibit showcases the diversity from the coastal sands to the rich fynbos found in different biomes of hills and mountains and cut flower hybrids which have originated from this biodiverse landscape. Cape Flora SA is a non-profit organisation that represents the South African cut-flower growers and exporters.