I’ve never been to the Chelsea Flower Show before – I’ve seen it on TV and always thought it would be a lovely place to visit, so when an invitation arrived to go along and visit the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, I popped on my most flowery dress (and Converse – you know me) and headed to ridiculously chic Sloane Square (where all the shops and restaurants were bedecked in flowers too) to meet up with the lovely team from Viking Cruises.
The garden, designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes, was created as a beautiful, reflective space to celebrate the Scandinavian love of combining nature and wellbeing. ‘The concept of wellness is an intrinsic part of the Scandi way of life’, explains Paul, ‘it’s about being in nautre and connecting with it’. Paul went on to explain his vision for this garden, and how he imagines how you would go into the sauna first, then out into the plunge pool, before drifting off through the landscape dotted with Swedish and Norwegian plants and botanical.
Not flashy or showy, the garden is elegant and understated, with soft muted colours, greens in every hue and an abundance of natural textures. Paul explained how all the plants were chosen specifically because of their culinary or medicinal uses. Indigenous Scandinavian plants are interspersed with other plants, like white flowering woodruff, lady’s mantle and angelica, all with health enhancing properties. At the centre of the garden, a huge mulberry tree throws dappled patterns of light and shade, adding to the ethereal feel (I’m still baffled as to how Paul managed to get a fully grown tree into the garden).
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Nordic garden dedicated to wellness without the glorious scent of Norwegian pine, and the working sauna and plunge pool really make the garden seem like a quiet corner of a well-loved, scented garden on a warm summer day.
Wherever you stop in the garden, there’s something new to catch your eye: I saw tiny alpine strawberries, blackberries and the beautifully sculptural angelica nodding in the breeze. I hate to drop the h-bomb, but the garden is so much a celebration of hygge: whether it’s embracing age-old Nordic bathing rituals, foraging for delicious food in your own outdoor space, or just relaxing with family and friends, this beautiful garden is so much of a reflection of the feeling of Viking’s own cruise ships, with an emphasis on living well and in balance with nature. I do hope you get a chance to see the Viking Cruises Wellness Garden, either on some of the television coverage (I spotted it on the BBC last night!) or in person. The RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs until 26th May.
Thank you so much to Viking Cruises for a wonderful day, oh and many congratulations for being shortlisted in 12 (yes, 12!) categories in the British Cruise Awards 2018. Not to blow my own trumpet, or anything, but I’ve also been shortlisted in the Best Blogger category. If you would like to vote (and that would be wonderful!), you can find the British Cruise Awards 2018 voting form just here.