Monday, 30 May 2016

Woke up it was a Chelsea morning ...



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.

On the whole the planting was very similar in many of  the gardens, and using a palette of pastel colours, it utilised cottage garden perennials, packed densely to create a rich, relaxed and informal effect. All the trusty favourites were there - roses, foxgloves,verbascum and poppies, to name but a few!



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. 


One of the highlights of Chelsea for me was one of the exhibitors, 'Wall End Nursery' featuring  abutilons, with a gorgeous stand, showcasing the range of varieties and colours available. Leila Jackson and Eric Turner hold the National Collection, and are very happy to give oodles  of really good advice . Now I have always loved Abutilons, and have grown them over the years, but have always assumed that they are unable to tolerate low temperatures. Not so! They are much tougher than they look, and some are tougher than others.



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 ... 


29 comments:

  1. Chelsea is on my bucket list but nearer the bottom than the top because I hate crowds. Was there something about your choice of day? You are so lucky to have good gardening shows and entertaining presenters-we lack both.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Susan, we werewere dreading the crowds but, apart from the last 15 minutes, it wasn't bad at all as the site is vast!

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  2. What a great day out! And thanks for sharing it. Usually one of the local TV shows goes across to cover it, but disappointingly not this year. Are you going to now redesign your garden? I think that would be the danger for me.

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    1. It was a great day Sue ! There were so many ideas to take away and muse over. We are redesigning part of the garden at the moment, so all those ideas really helped.

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  3. I didn' t go this year so I really enjoyed this post Jane. Have you grown Abutilon vitifolium which is a lovely violet colour and bone hardy? I can send you some seeds in the autumn if you would like it.

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  4. I didn' t go this year so I really enjoyed this post Jane. Have you grown Abutilon vitifolium which is a lovely violet colour and bone hardy? I can send you some seeds in the autumn if you would like it.

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    1. Thank you Chloris, I would love some vitifolium seeds in the autumn! I have never grown these before , and am really getting interested in Abutilon. I would like to send you some seeds/ plants in return. Have you any thoughts ? I have lots of lovely Auriculas but can't remember if you love them or hate them ? Also host 'Sum and substance' are coming along rather nicely...

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    2. I don' t need anything in return. You already sent me some lovely auriculas Jane. I will save you some seeds.

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  5. You are so right about Chelsea being on my bucket list. I love reading blog posts about people's visit. They are as diverse as the gardens themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed your visit. I hope to make my own visit some day.

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    1. Do go if you can possibly can, Lisa. You will not regret it !!

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  6. So satisfying when a long-wished-for experience fulfills your expectations. Sounds like a perfect day.

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    1. So true Ricki, we have waited such a long time to actually go!

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  7. That is the cutest garage I have ever seen. One fit for Mr Bean ;)

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  8. It must be quite an experience.
    I also like abutilon, they make a wonderful house pant. In Florence last winter I saw some which had obviously survived several winters outside so some must be hardier than we think.

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    1. I was surprised Alain as some go down to -8 degrees, I was told. One even survived the terrible winter of 2010 outside in the nursery of the exhibitor, although top growth was frosted, roots survived.

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  9. I enjoyed watching the BBC coverage this year. Diarmuid Gavin gave a talk recently to our local HPS, about his life building show gardens including his plans and pictures of this years. A great imaginative designer.

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    1. Diarmuids garden was totally bonkers and quite amusing - it had revolving shrubs and window boxes which went up and down. The crowds loved it !

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  10. So nice to read the comments on the Chelsea Flower Show from a dedicated gardener like you. Of course I followed it on BBC2 but it's so much better to see it alive in full glory. You can guess it's already for years on my bucket list too....

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    1. Thank you Janneke, you would love it ! The only negative is that there are not many plants to buy on the day ! Most of the shows have lots of nurseries selling all sorts of lovely plants and there are plant creches to look after them for you, until you leave, but not at Chelsea!

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  11. Good move buying the tix as a Christmas present - a little strategic planning is important for gardeners. It's interesting that the US has no real equivalent to the Chelsea show. We do have garden shows, but they don't attract the media attention or have the same celebrity quality.

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    1. That is interesting Jason, I wonder why there is no real equivalent to Chelsea in the US. The BBC give an hour per day for chelsea coverage, which is a bit of overkill really!

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  12. Great pictures Jane, I grow Abutilon megapotamicum outside and it hardly ever stops flowering but the ornamental hybrids are placed in the cold tunnel for the winter.

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    1. Thanks for the advice Rick. I love Megapotamicum, but have only grown it in the greenhouse until this year, when I have just planted lots of well grown cuttings from it outside. I thought I would test the water with them! You are so right, it flowers just about non-stop!

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  13. I love abutilon, too, but it doesn't survive our winters. What a fabulous day you had! So, what does happen to all the plants, etc from the show or is that a big secret?

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    1. Tammy, in true eccentric English style, the plants are all sold in a mad auction on the last day of Chelsea. A big bell is rung signalling the start of the sell-off, then everything is dismantled and the plants sold at knock down prices. As most people travel by tube, there are some very interesting travellers to be spotted! The press love it!

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  14. Thanks Jane, Your post motivate me to make our garden more beautiful. I try these plants in my garden Chris Symons but these plants only survive 2 or 3 weeks. can you tell me how many centigrade weather is suitable for these plants?

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  15. I am so jealous, this is all so beautiful and looks like an amazingly fun experience. I am glad you got to enjoy the show. Great photos by the way.

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