Scenes from the Chelsea Flower Show

I’ve been pondering my visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on Friday while I’ve been working in my own garden over the weekend. I was going to write something about it not being as good as previous years – there were fewer large, jaw-dropping gardens and less creativity (in my opinion) – but that would be ungracious. It’s all so personal, isn’t it? What delights one person can leave another cold. While it may not have been a stand-out year, visiting the show is always a treat. It’s a fantastic experience for anyone interested in plants and gardening and there was plenty of beauty on display. The weather was fabulous, we had a day out On Our Own in London town, we got to wander around looking at wonderful plants, we people-watched, we had fun. It was a good day.

Rather than witter on about the merits of this and that, I thought I’d show you the scenes that caught my eye, the views that made my heart beat a little faster. There are quite a few photos (and I edited them down heavily), so perhaps make a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine. Here goes:

The M&G Garden designed by James Basson was inspired by an abandoned Maltese quarry. I didn’t ‘love’ it exactly but there were some interesting interplays of light and shadow. It won a gold medal and ‘best in show’. The judging often leaves people slightly mystified.
The Breast Cancer Now Garden designed by Ruth Willmott won a silver-gilt medal. I really liked the plant combinations and the overall layout of the garden.

The Seedlip Garden (one of the Artisan Gardens) designed by Catherine MacDonald won a gold medal. I loved the use of copper pipes and this gorgeous geum below, Geum ‘Mai Tai’.

One of five BBC Radio 2 Feel Good Gardens, the Jeremy Vine Texture Garden was designed by Matt Keightley. I loved the colour palette and the contrasting textures of hard landscaping and the plants. I’m not sure what the lovely flower is below; there was no one around to ask. (Please tell me if you know!)

The Zoe Ball Listening Garden was designed by James Alexander Sinclair. Another garden full of interesting planting but the main attraction was the water. The three steel water troughs vibrated to an underground beat which you could feel through your feet if you stood right next to the garden. The water rippled, bubbled and bounced as it vibrated to the sound. Quite magical.
Here we come to my favourite garden of the whole show, the Anneke Rice Colour Cutting Garden, designed by Sarah Raven (with creative input from Tricia Guild). There was inspiration in spades (ha ha). Colour, generous planting, detail everywhere. I absolutely loved, loved, loved it and so did many other people judging by the crowds. The following seven photos are of this garden (I took loads…).

There were plenty of fabulous stands inside the floral marquee. The Pennard Plants exhibit had a gorgeous, soft wildflower meadow full of Ragged Robin and a lovely wicker pig and her piglets. This radiating climber support (below) attached to their shed also caught my eye. Definitely something you could do at home.

The vibrant dispay of cacti by Southfield Nurseries looked like delicious cakes in a fancy patisserie or sweets in a sweetshop.
Back outside and another Artisan Garden (which are often my favourites). This one was designed by Ishihara Kazayuki. Called ‘Gosho No Niwa’ (No Walls, No War), it exuded a sense of peace and calm.
The tranquil Poetry Lover’s Garden, designed by Fiona Cadwallader, had gorgeous, romantic planting featuring dramatic pots of very dark purple/black Fritillaria persica (below).

Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Morgan Stanley won the ‘People’s Choice’ award which is voted for by the public (not the RHS judges). I can see why it won with its lush mix of formal and informal planting but it wasn’t my favourite.
Finally, a shot of the main avenue at Chelsea, taken from a treehouse at about 7pm, the sun low and the crowds thinning out.

I hope you’re still awake…

It’s half term here this week and my three have exams to revise for. The eldest has an A/S level exam in Government and Politics looming and is glued to the political shenanigans on the tv and radio at the moment; the younger two have end-of-year exams. I’ll be making the most of the quiet by squeezing in as much gardening as I can to get our plot looking its best for the Garden Safari. Four weeks and counting… Have a super week.

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28 thoughts on “Scenes from the Chelsea Flower Show

    1. Thanks, CJ. The youngest has been lying under the apple tree ‘revising’, the middle one has spent a lot of time at the beach with friends and the eldest has been valiantly reading indoors (which is hard given the glorious weather).

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  1. It is interesting to see more of the garden Sarah Raven was involved in. I only saw it once on tv, her own garden at Perch Hill always looks so full of colour. I couldn’t really relate to the Best in Show garden and thought the judges reasons for Chris Beardshaw not receiving a gold a little week. We are all different with different views and ideas, which is why visiting gardens is so interesting. Thank you for sharing Chelsea, best wishes for your garden safari.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this – it was interesting to hear the views from someone I ‘knew’, and not just a commentator. Was your ticket for the afternoon/evening and if so is this the better way of doing it? Hope you have a calm week with your pre-exam teenagers!

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    1. We had all-day tickets, Cathy, which are from 8am–8pm, but we didn’t get there until midday (children, trains). If you get a late ticket, which I think is from 3pm, you have 5 hours to look around but I think you need as much time as possible to soak it all up. The weather has helped to keep everything spookily calm here!

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      1. Yes, spookily calm is what it is here too, I would say 😉 We aim to get to Chatsworth for opening time on Weds but haven’t been to a big show for years so not sure how the day will pan out

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  3. Yes, definitely Trollius, I found one too this year. I’ve put an extra large irrigation nozzle on it!
    How lovely to go to the show. I had to make do with the BBC coverage which annoyed me intensely. They seem obsessed with just a few of the show gardens and hardly featured the pavilion displays at all.

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  4. thanks for the lovely photos x I can’t watch the bbc coverage, the obsession with gold medals drives me mad, I just want to see things that I can be inspired by and dream to recreate in my own space x

    hope the exam revising is going well, I’ve got one revising for GCSE’s and the other for A levels, – including Government and Politics too – she’s been able to explain quite a few things to me, very useful! x

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  5. Oh many thanks for your photographic tour and thoughts on Chelsea 2017 Sam which I thoroughly enjoyed with my morning coffee. I hope that all is going well in the revision department.

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  6. Thank you so much for your view. I’m watching here from Seattle so I don’t get any media coverage and depend on bloggers like you. I’m going to have to add trollius x cultorum ‘Alabaster’ to my wish list, I see! Thanks for the ID, @Cornflower!

    What I see from your collection of photos is that the gardens look “messy”, or perhaps more politely called “wild”. I will enjoy reading others’ opinions of the show to compare. It’s funny, because that wild look is what I have in my current garden (see my instagram feed @gracehensleyhorticulture from a few days back). Since we’re moving, I wonder what style I’ll do for the next plot; I hate to copy trends, you know.

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  7. Thank you so much for your lovely blog – I’m an avid gardener and enjoy all your musings about life and the garden. Loved the photos of the Chelsea flower show makes me want to head straight outside and get started.
    Dawn

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