Our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens from this year

Breath-taking designs that told emotional stories and raised awareness of important causes.

Surrounded by the crowds of people, bounteous blooms and awe-inspiring landscaping of the Chelsea Flower Show, trying to decide on your favourite gardens from the UK’s most important horticultural event can feel an almost impossible task. 

Dodging the bustling camera crews filming interviews, and the pollinating insects hurriedly feeding from purple petals (one of the major Chelsea Flower Show trends this year), the Saga Exceptional team explored the multitude of stands to bring you our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens.  

And here they are, with many from the best and brightest lights in the world of horticulture. But while each garden was stunning in its design, each one also – just as importantly – relayed important messages through choice planting and thoughtful landscaping, while being as sustainable as possible.  

The Savills Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Amy Cutmore / Exceptional
The Savills Garden paired ornamental and edible plants together

1. Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden

Opening up about life and loss

Transcendence garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Honest Communications
A peaceful pathway through the Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: We felt physically and emotionally moved by its atmosphere. 

About the garden: Designed by Gavin McWilliam and Andrew Wilson of McWilliam Studio, the Silver Gilt medal-winning garden focused on opening positive conversations about the end of life, encouraging people to discuss the often hard-to-broach topic of death and share their dying wishes with loved ones. 

As we walked along the open, spacious central pathway – which was uneven in places and had smaller paths leading away from it in different directions, to show how everyone’s journey through grief is different – the noise of the crowds seemed to fade away. The imposing stone structure at the end was softened by the sound of falling water from a waterfall and provided a moment of quiet contemplation (often hard to come by at the show). The garden’s effect moved many people to tears, and we found ourselves talking about those difficult topics a little more easily. 

What will happen to it after the show: The garden will be relocated after the show to the grounds of the Memoria North Oxfordshire Crematorium and Memorial Park, where it will offer a tranquil space for people to reflect on and remember their loved ones in nature. 


2. The Biophilic Garden Otsu – Hanare

A peaceful moment in nature

The Biophilic Garden Otsu - Hanare at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Amy Cutmore / Exceptional
A small ‘hanare’ studio nestled next to the waterfall

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: The cool, calming air drew us in and watching the waterfall was a boost for our wellbeing. 

About the garden: The second of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens was designed by the Gold medal-winning Kazuyuki Ishihara and also features a waterfall.  

This Japanese-inspired Sanctuary Garden featured a small house (which in Japan is known as a ‘hanare’) nestled next to a tumbling waterfall. For a moment, the show melted away and we were on a peaceful mountainside in Japan, surrounded by acers and water irises. 

The air felt cooler around this garden, with dappled shade offering relief from the sun. We stopped and for a moment we felt truly biophilic – totally absorbed in the plants, small garden rockery and peaceful sounds from moving water.  

What will happen to it after the show: For the first time this year, the RHS has stipulated that every garden must live on, so while we don’t have the exact details of this garden’s second lease of life, we have no doubt it will provide peaceful sanctuary in its next location too.  

3. Centrepoint Garden

Highlighting homelessness – and hope

Centrepoint Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: RHS / Sarah Cuttle
Out of destruction grows the healing potential of nature

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: What at first seemed destructive and chaotic evolved in front of our eyes into a wild, thriving habitat that can help to heal.  

About the garden: Even though this was the first show garden we stopped to explore, its design and message stayed with us all day. Winning the Best Construction Award (Show Garden) and a Gold medal, Cleve West’s creation hit home for many people. 

The garden centres around a demolished home – the hearth is there, but it’s in ruins. But all is not lost, as nature has been gently growing over and bringing its healing power into the rubbly remains. At first glance, we felt a little overwhelmed by the destruction in front of us but, looking closer, we saw a thriving hub of wildflowers, insects (and even an escaped houseplant, living outside the conventional home environment, like so many young people Centrepoint supports).  

What will happen to it after the show: Parts of the garden will be relocated to one of Centrepoint’s hostels in Ealing, west London, providing a space for young people to look after and relax in.  

4. Horatio’s Garden

Making gardens accessible

Horatio's Garden Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Marianne Majerus
Plants were within reach at every height in Horatio’s Garden

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: So many outside spaces are inaccessible to people with mobility issues, so it was refreshing to see somewhere focused on changing that. 

About the garden: We couldn’t compile our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens without including Horatio’s Garden. Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg’s fully wheelchair-accessible design scooped Best Show Garden and a Gold medal. Quite rightly too.  

Horatio’s Garden is a charity that nurtures wellbeing after spinal injury in vibrant sanctuaries in NHS spinal centres, and the show garden put mobility issues at the heart of every planting decision. 

Each element of the garden began its journey in the experiences of spinal injury patients. Planting was layered to accommodate different ways of seeing, and a garden room provided a moment’s sanctuary from the crowds. Smooth, cement-free terrazzo paths were patient-friendly and more sustainable too – with a 77% reduced carbon footprint compared to regular cement.  

What will happen to it after the show: The garden will be relocated to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. 

5. The Savills Garden

Foraged food from ‘plot to plate’

The Savills Garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Amy Cutmore / Exceptional
The show’s first full kitchen was preparing daily meals using plants from the plot

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: Food you don’t have to go to the shops for? Result! A fully functional kitchen garden was an impressive first for the show this year.  

About the garden: The Silver Gilt medal-winning design from Mark Gregory featured the show’s first ever functioning kitchen in a show garden. Chef Sam Buckley – who has won a Michelin Green Star for sustainability at his restaurant Where The Light Gets In, in Stockport – foraged daily for ingredients from The Savills Garden’s edible plot, preparing food for Chelsea Pensioners.  

This garden felt like a masterclass in al fresco living, with an outdoor kitchen and dining area (complete with hearth); like an intimate walled garden in a luxury hotel, yet welcoming to all. This garden was an ideal marriage between ornamental and edible, and we certainly wanted a seat at the table.  

What will happen to it after the show: The sponsors, the estate agent Savills, will work with the Shaw Trust charity to relocate the garden to Nottinghamshire, where it will help teach cookery skills to young people in a residential setting. Additionally, Savills will work with existing charity partner Rethink Food, an organisation focused on educating schoolchildren on food security, to share learnings from the garden. 


6. The Fauna & Flora Garden

Conversations on conservation

Fauna & Flora garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2023Credit: Stephanie Foote / Fauna & Flora
Follow the ecotourist’s trek to the waterfall at this garden’s peak

Why it’s one of our favourite Chelsea Flower Show gardens: In an instant we were transported to a mountain-scape in central Africa, with landscaping that looked thousands of years old. 

About the garden: Our third and final waterfall – we’re sensing a theme here – was part of an ecotourist’s trek through the tropical forests of a central African mountain. The Silver medal-winning concept from Jilayne Rickards put the critical importance of protecting nature at the forefront of this design. A tourist kiosk, medicinal garden and true-to-life gorilla’s nest were neighbours for the week in this garden, showing how vital it is that people collaborate with each other and nature to achieve sustainability and conservation.  

What will happen to it after the show: The garden will be relocated to the biomes of The Eden Project in Cornwall. 

Rosanna Spence

Written by Rosanna Spence she/her


Rosanna Spence has been a journalist for nearly 10 years, reporting on a huge array of topics – from microwaves to cocktails, sustainable buildings, the Caribbean islands and beyond. She’s interviewed chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants and chatted to countless CEOs about their businesses, as well as created travel guides for experienced travellers seeking life-changing adventures. Throughout her career, she has created content for Business Traveller, i-escape.com, Pub & Bar, BRITA, Dine Out and many more leading titles and brands.

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