RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016

A wonderful celebration of light, history, colourful tapestries and craftsmanship.


God’s Own County - A Garden for Yorkshire’ was designed to showcase Yorkshire’s stunning scenery, iconic heritage, industries and skilled tradespeople.’

STATUS: Show garden

As part of Matthew Wilson’s Design and Project Management team

Sponsor: Welcome to Yorkshire

Landscape construction: Aire Valley Landscapes

Water feature: Aquascapes

Lighting: Moonlight Design

Photography: Julie Skelton & Chris Snook

Sponsored by the tourism agency ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’, the garden was inspired by the Great East Window at York Minster cathedral, the largest single expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain, originally designed and created by John Thornton between 1405 and 1408. In 2016, York Minster East Window was undergoing a huge restoration, which lasted 12 years and was completed and revealed in all its glory in 2018.  The show garden featured a 5 x 3 metres-stained glass window, made using the same methods that at the time of its creation.

Despite its ancient inspiration, the garden mixed the old and the new - the materials were used to reflect the Yorkshire landscape and Minster, including traditional stone and timber, as well as gargoyles and monoliths loaned from historic sites across the county.  The York Glaziers Trust and stone masons from York Minster also contributed their expertise, bringing more than 600 years of living history and ancient skills to Chelsea.

The garden was designed by Matthew Wilson as a restful and calming environment, with the furniture of a great cathedral - benches, aisles, stone tombs represented by blocks of yew, Buxus and various seats made of wood or stone blocks.

The planting on the upper level of the garden celebrates the many fine woodlands in the county, and plant introductions to the country by the great plant hunters. The central areas of perennials planting consisted of a series of beds, directly inspired by, and designed to echo to, the shape and colour scheme of the stained-glass panels of the East Window. 

The show garden won the BBC ‘People’s choice award’.