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28 October 2014
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Meet the Designers

Get inside the minds of Chelsea's top designers and find out where you can enjoy their design work outside the show.

2006 Rockwool Garden
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Kate Frey

Show garden 2007: The Fetzer Sustainable Winery Garden

Chelsea track record: Two gardens for Fetzer in 2003 and 2005, the first winning silver-gilt and the second gold.

Kate Frey

Design trademarks: Kate Frey's native California inspires everything she does, and her show gardens are a real trip to the West Coast. Kate manages Fetzer's organic garden in Californian wine country, and her design philosophy is rooted deep in the environment where she lives and works. She is passionate about using native plants and encouraging wildlife in the garden, and her designs are as much about creating havens for butterflies, bees and other insects as they are about creating an impact. As a result, there's a certain wild beauty about her work, and a strong sense of place.

Where to see her work: Fetzer Valley Oaks organic garden, Hopland, California, USA

In her own words: "When appropriate plants are chosen, they are not prone to disease. Need for chemical fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides becomes non-existent. Caring for the garden becomes easier, and time in the garden more enjoyable."

Diarmuid Gavin and Stephen Reilly

Show garden 2007: The Westland Garden

Chelsea track record: Bronze medal 1995, silver-gilt 2004 and 2005. Stephen has designed planting schemes for three show gardens, winning a silver-gilt and two gold medals.

Diarmuid Gavin

Design trademarks: Nobody arouses such strong feelings about his design style as Chelsea's enfant terrible, Diarmuid Gavin. Flamboyant, challenging, and above all controversial, his extravagant designs are never boring, and often go directly against the mainstream. He's been strongly criticised - even by the normally reticent RHS show organisers, who called him 'a complete nightmare'. Others, however, revel in his ability to try something different. Whether or not you like shark's fins and multi-coloured enamel balls on sticks, Diarmuid has got us all talking about garden design as never before.

Stephen Reilly, in charge of the planting, is known for strongly architectural schemes, using sculpted box and elegant plants such as Astelia chathamica to frame more gentle grasses and perennials.

Where to see his work: The Contemporary Garden, Gardens Through Time, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Harrogate.

In his own words: "Chelsea can be utterly pretentious and there is too much stuffy elitism and pseudo-intellectual rubbish about gardening' I want gardening to be more relevant to people."

Website: For more information visit

Robert Myers

Show garden 2007: The Fortnum and Mason Garden

Chelsea track record: First time creating a show garden, though he has exhibited at Chelsea in 2003 and 2006, winning a gold medal both times.

Robert Myers

Design trademarks: Robert Myers creates fabulous classical designs in the grand manner, taking traditional design features such as parterres, yew hedging and pleached limes and updating them with waves of billowing plants in sumptuous, rich colours. He has a sure touch and knows how to arrange plants in very modern ways - in waves and drifts of colour - yet so that they still sit well in traditional settings. He is much in demand for the sensitive updating of historical gardens.

Where to see his work: Rockingham Castle, Market Harborough, Leicestershire

In his own words: "Chelsea is a much more artistic thing, but it still has a sense of place, and you still need to get under the skin of that place, its history and character. It's a slightly bizarre sense of place - but it does have one."

Website: For more information visit

Ulf Nordfjell

Show garden 2007: A Tribute to Linnaeus

Chelsea track record: First time at Chelsea

Ulf Nordfjell

Design trademarks: Ulf is an award-winning landscape architect in his native Sweden and has won international praise for his gardens, using bold statements to create ultra-modern settings of steel and sculpted wood or granite. He's also a consummate plantsman, combining perennials with grasses and bulbs in the European style, reminiscent of Piet Oudolf's prairie planting. Creative use of water and lighting is also a major feature in his gardens. He incorporates the Scandinavian trademarks of clear light and clean colours, and many of the projects Ulf has been involved in celebrate Sweden's natural environment and oldest country traditions.

Where to see his work: Umedalen Sculpture Gardens, Umea, Sweden. Wij Gardens, Ockelbo, Sweden

In his own words: "I am extremely proud to be among only a handful of Swedish designers to ever exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show. This year is the year of our most famous countryman, the father of botany, Linnaeus, and it was with him in mind that I designed my first Chelsea Flower Show garden."

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