This week I was in the lovely sunshine of London – at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
I had an all-day ticket for Tuesday, the first day for members of the RHS. I arrived at 8:10am to find that it was already packed with people rushing to see the show gardens. I bypassed the scrum and went to the far end of the Great Pavilion (GP). The overwhelming fragrance that hits on entering is the great joy that stays with me all year. The air is thick with the scents of tens of thousands of flowers and plants. There’s nothing else like it.
Set out in the GP are scores of stands run by professional specialists – many are specialists in one particular plant. Some, however, put together the most extraordinary display of multiple plants. The great treat is that you can talk to the growers. They are free with information about the plants’ needs and peculiarities. You can take photographs, you can buy seeds and there are brochures galore from which you can choose plants to be sent from online orders. All the stands are judged and the coveted prize is the Gold Medal. The criteria for judging can be found here: Chelsea Medals.
Around the outside of the GP are scores of trade stands showing everything from swish ride-on mowers and summer houses to Japanese bonsai scissors. There is clearly a great deal of money slooshing around if the range of stands proposing outdoor kitchens, huge sculptures and exquisite greenhouses is anything to go by.
There is always a huge clamour around the Show Gardens. These are often massively expensive, hard-landscaped rooms and rivers and paths with some planting in between. I’m afraid the theme is often lost on me. I find it hard to imagine how any gardener could be satisfied with such a ‘completed’ garden. Where is the joy in a garden if you can’t potter in it, searching out weeds and wondering where you can put the next favourite plant?
The spaces I like the best are the artisan gardens. These are small artistic gardens which make use of traditional craftsmanship. I loved the The DialAFlight Potter’s Garden, designed by Nature Redesigned.
and The Topiarist’s Garden at West Green House, which was designed by Marylyn Abbott
These seem much more authentic to me and I’d love to spend time in either of these gardens.
But the real stars of the show are the flowers. I was blown away by some truly remarkable alliums, the like of which I’ve never seen before.
Here are some more tasters of the show:
So if you haven’t been to Chelsea Flower Show before why not try it in 2015?