A visit to the Chelsea Flower show is probably on the bucket list of most passionate gardeners, and has been on mine for years, but work has always prevented me from attending. Not this year though, so I bought my partner tickets for Christmas - a very cunning plan, as I had to buy one for myself as well!
Our show day was Thursday, and it dawned warm and sunny, and it stayed like that all day, making the weather as perfect as you imagine it will be.
We headed to the Show Gardens first, and they were absolutely amazing. We were not disappointed!
The BBC were out in force, filming, in the show gardens and it was an interesting process to watch . We also saw the presenters around the site too - Monty Don, Joe Sharp, Toby Buckland and Nicky Chapman. Carol Klein would have completed the set, but it was not to be !
|Toby Buckland being filmed for BBC Chelsea coverage|
|Nicky Chapman in the David Austin stand|
The garden designers were also much in evidence, and many were in their gardens, chatting to the public, or giving interviews. Diarmuid Gavin exited from the little gothic tower in his bonkers garden, along with many friends ! How did they all fit in?
The highlights for me were the Japanese designer Kazuyuki Ishihara's garden which was suitably quirky and, although small, was perfectly formed. We happened along at just the right moment when he was showing the crowd his awards.
The garden pictured below was designed by Charlie Albone, sponsored by Husqvarna and was my favourite. I loved the rich, dark palette of the planting, featuring lots of purples and dark pinks. Exotics such as Acacia and Protea were planted alongside more traditional european perennials and all were offset by tiered formal hedging, and flashes of white.
The garden above was designed by Chris Beardshaw and is the Morgan Stanley garden for Great Ormond Street. Once the show has finished it will be moved to its permanent home there, serving as a place of "privacy and reflection" for parents and families. Considering the terrifying amount of waste
which Chelsea must create, it is good to know that this garden, at least, is here to stay.
The garden above was designed by Hay Joung Hwang and sponsored by L G Electronics. It represents a Scandinavian lifestyle garden. I loved the way the cool, pale hard landscaping contrasted with the dense informal planting.
The Great Pavilion was all I had hoped for - an extravagance of gorgeous flowers and foliage all at their very peak. There were fantastic displays all around, from the New Covent Garden Flower market's all white extravaganza...
... to the stunning colours of begonia Rex and streptocarpus ...
... and the over the top exuberance of the gladioli.
We have been to several other of the 'big' RHS shows over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed them, but Chelsea is clearly the King of them all . The Show Gardens are in a league of their own, and are the heart of the whole event. The quality of the planting and the build is fabulous, and there is so much to learn from them.
After talking with Leila, I bought 2 collections of plug plants, priced, very reasonably, at £10 for 3 plants, and she advised me which of the collection contained the most hardy varieties .
I will post in more detail next time about these beautiful plants, and how they have fared. Needless to say I am excited to start growing them, and get them into the greenhouse and garden.
We had a great day and Chelsea really lived up to expectations. I had envisaged it being uncomfortably crowded, but that was not the case, and in fact it was easy to move around and see the gardens. We left around 3.30 p.m. as the 'late ticket' visitors were coming in, and for a short while it was ridiculously busy.
So, go if you get the chance and immerse yourself in all things planty for a few sublime hours ...