Another May another Chelsea Flower Show! Preparations begin early. No, I don’t mean the garden builds I mean remembering to buy the tickets. Over six months in advance, an email will suddenly plop into my mailbox and I’m online in minutes to book my tickets, But it’s not just the ticket to the show you have to worry about. If you want to have a decent sit-down lunch you really have to get in quick or at best you will be eating lunch at some very ‘unlunchy’ (that’s a word right?) like time and at worst you will be eating a baguette that costs as much as the deposit on a small family saloon whilst trying to put your fingers in your ears at the bandstand. Not an easy task and the egg mayo can get in your hair. Messy!
So the tickets are booked and then you need to pray for good weather. Start praying early. The gods look down and often take the needs of the gardens into account much more than those of the viewing public.
As you get nearer the great day you then have to decide who you will invite to accompany you. This is tricky and can involve keeping out of everyone’s way in the week preceding Chelsea in case they feel they should have been on your list.
This year my prayers paid off and the forecast was for a perfect Chelsea day. Not too hot but no rain. The forecast was right.
There were plenty of cottage plants on show. We decided that this year the plant of the show was the foxglove. It towered over many of the gardens in all hues.
As usual there was plenty of box hedging, a bit of unhappy looking topiaryed yew, (which keeps it real) and lots of alliums, verbascums, geums, lavender, you name it, they have it. The gardens are not gardens, they are works of art. Garden installations. You would struggle to get the hellebores and the foxgloves flowering at the same time in your own garden. You may not want to paint the trunks of your birch trees orange!
Again this year we had to stop ourselves from grabbing handfuls of grass and doing our own helpful weeding. There is a fine line between a relaxed planting scheme and looking like it’s all got out of control.
But there was plenty of control elsewhere. Lots of hard landscaping, garden furniture and water features. Even a floating garden.
There is, of course, something for everyone. Diarmuid Gavin’s garden called ‘Harrods Eccentric British Garden.’ fulfilled his desire to make people laugh. A folly and a delightfully ridiculous garden of spinning bay trees, box balls that bounce and a revolving border kept everyone amused. I overheard an Irish lady comment that only a mad Irishman could come up with such a mad idea – and call it British!
Some gardens won Gold, some Silver Gilt and some Silver but to the amateur it can be difficult to see why. Although this matters hugely to the garden designers, to those of us looking on we just marvel at the beauty of it all. It doesn’t really matter to me who won ‘best in show’ I just love it all, even the gardens that don’t really appeal to me I can appreciate the work that goes into them. A fabulous day, a great lunch, some delicious ice cream and a welcome sit down near the bandstand during a quiet moment!
I’ll be keeping my eye out for that email later this year inviting me to book for Chelsea 2017. Maybe next year I’ll take you!