My annual trip to the Chelsea Flower Show is one of my favourite outings of the year – a chance to immerse myself in the world of the garden without even lifting a fork. This year was no exception, but there are so many detailed reports about Chelsea circulating at the moment that I am just going to share with you a few of my favourite photos which I hope will let you enjoy a little of my day at Chelsea. I noticed this year that there was much less block planting and more tapestry planting, where individual plants are woven together to create a beautiful painterly style scheme. My lasting impression of Chelsea 2013 will be Cow Parsley – it was everywhere and I love it!
We started our day early – after an overnight stay in London we were up with the larks on Tuesday morning for a very nice breakfast at our hotel and then a quick walk to the show grounds to join the crowd for the 8am opening. As soon as we were through the gates we hurried to the show gardens in the vain hope of viewing them whilst it was quiet. I have made a note for next year that the early afternoon was actually quieter than the early morning.
The show gardens were spectacular as usual, although they seem to be increasingly more conceptual art rather than cutting edge garden design. Without a thorough study of the programme on the train, I think I would have missed the point of most of what I saw. This is not a criticism – the messages were powerful and Chelsea for me is not about taking home planting plans.
The artisan gardens were a delight. Being so much smaller it is easier to appreciate the details of the planting and the stories that these gardens tell were particularly enchanting this year.
The artisan gardens lead us conveniently to the bandstand where we had a much needed cup of coffee and a quick sit down. It was tempting to stay in our seats and watch Alan Titchmarsh announce the Best in Show, but we decided to head quickly to the Grand Pavillion before the day slipped away.
I love the Grand Pavilion. That is where the serious work of the day takes place. Here I admire all my favourite flowers, pick up cards and brochures and even order a few plants on the spot. This year I have ordered eremourus crowns and chrysanthemum cuttings. I have added a number of varieties of tulips, peonies and roses to my autumn wish list, as well as a stunning euphorbia called Red Wing.
After a much needed break for lunch, we continued with the shops and what a lot of shops there were. I bought gardening gloves, an Emma Bridgewater commemorative mug and some lovely ‘milk bottle’ style vases. I have also come away with ideas for pots, lanterns and garden furniture. We even found some gnomes!
After a long day we returned to the bandstand to enjoy a glass of champagne, before heading back on the train to Suffolk and the real world of gardening.
I am pleased to inform you all that many garden weeds are now on trend, so I was very selective when weeding yesterday. I did wonder if I could include sticky weed in my planting plan, but have decided that until a garden designer includes it in a Chelsea show garden, I had better continue with the battle against it!
All in all I had a very memorable and enjoyable day at Chelsea this year., Sadly, however, I feel that this Chelsea will always be linked in my mind with the tragic and unforgettable events that unfolded in London on Wednesday.