Friday 31 May 2013

RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 100 years!

It is not wasted on me that Chelsea is much like a favourite annual flower. Appearing, as it does, at the same time every year. Having flowered prolifically for a week, allowing us all to cut flowers for home by merrily snapping our shutters after the best shots of the gardens and blooms. Setting seeds that germinate. Garnering strength, adapting to its environment, appearing dormant over the winter and then, just as we are losing the memory of its beauty, bursting back into our consciousness with a great "ta-da!"

It is an interesting turn of events, that in this modern era, we are transported to the show ground daily through the magic of  television and the internet. Here we can luxuriate in all the show has to offer without once setting foot outside.Brilliantly talented people film and describe the exhibits, strangely this has the effect of making the show look better on tv than it does in real life! This always foxes me, and yes, somehow disappoints me.

 This year being the 100th anniversary of the show I had great expectations~ here are some of the things that caught my eye...this is the "Secret Garden, past and present" designed by Horticolous. Positioned in the The Great Pavilion. It was  real standout for me.

Also in the Pavillion this, from Barnsdale Gardens. Inspired by their ornamental kitchen garden and of course famous for being the home of the late and very great Geoff Hamilton.

This was amazing and quite unexpected, a Buddhist temple surrounded by orchids and bromeliad flowers
Two white elephants are guarding the temple, it looked stunning and was the work of  Nong Nooch Tropical Botanic Garden.

Outside in the Artisan Gardens I loved the colour  in the Herbert Smith Freehills garden, this garden is inspired by the work of the charity WaterAid in India.. The planting was so perfect, red, plum and ochre...

This is the Massachusetts Graden. inspired by poetry of Emily Dickinson and featuring the most fabulous leather applique work panels designed by Susanna Hunter.

I think this just about nosed ahead of all the others as my overall Woolcott and Smith Garden Design for the NSPCC. It was so nostalgic and crammed full of beautiful planting, the photographs on the RHS site do far better justice to it!
There were some stunning hoardings around the show ground featuring images from the archives, I thought they were stunning and wished more had been made of the history...
I drink dew for wine, and hearken to 
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.

I am the lover's gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.

But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn.

Taken from "Song of the flower" by  Khalil Gibran

Whilst I certainly had my "favourite" gardens it is not lost on me the Herculean effort that goes into every exhibit and garden. I admire and salute everyone who takes part in the show, this was brought home to me the week before the event when I bumped into my mate Simon.
"You look knackered!" was my hearty greeting.
"Been up all night with Verbena Bonariensis" he repilied.
"Say no more!" I said.
"No not that verbena! This Verbena is for a show garden at Chelsea and it needs to be perfect..."
"Ah, I see....."
...and Simon, it was perfect! Have a look here at Roger Platts Centenary Garden..
Simon's family run How Green Nursery and have been supplying Chelsea Flower Show for many years. Luckily for us they are having an open weekend on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th June, so if you are anywhere near my neck of the woods (Kent ~ Sussex border) then do pop in. More details available on their Facebook page. Maybe see you there?


  1. I like the NSPCC garden, it looks very exciting/ I have never been to the Show but there's so much tv coverage you almost feel you have seen it all - I am sure it is better being there though. I used to work near there and the tube would be crammed with people carrying home unlikely and awkward specimens on the last day of the Show when they sell everything off.

  2. Such an enjoyable post with all the lovely gardens.
    If only we could start with proper Summer weather we'd all be able to have little Chelsea bits in our own gardens.
    I LOVE the auricula theatre, I have a small collection but no theatre as yet.
    Another grey day here in France but I'm told that the sun may be seen this weekend which is good as this is the weekend when gardens will be open all over France - the chance to see many that are will only be open for this special annual event.


  3. Lovely post. I have never been to the show, must try to make time for it. Looks fantastic, just my cup of tea. Lizzie

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.I love your photos.I always thought the Chelsea flower show was somehting to do with old ladies ( Sorry !!!) but it's on my wish list now.
    Hugs from Amsterdam
    Erna x

  5. Thank you for sharing your stunning pics. I would love to go and see all the gardens, a special place.Love Jill xx

  6. Thanks for sharing I missed the TV coverage this year and it's so nice to see the exhibits from a visitors point of view. Your pictures are gorgeous. Sarah x

  7. Loved seeing your highlights, you always pick out such great sights to share with us.
    Love the colour of the planting in the Indian garden.
    Lisa x

  8. I only went to the flower show once but always tuned in to the TV tours. Not this year. I did read that they were allowing garden gnomes. Did you see them?

  9. I went for the first time this year and loved it. The Water Aid garden was designed by a French lady called Patricia who lives round the corner from me and has a beautiful garden, as you would expect. Your photos are super!

  10. Lovely pictures
    Julie xxxxx

  11. I'm so glad you went, you seem to like the same kind of gardens as I do, your photos are so vert pretty.

  12. Wish I had been there. It all looks very inspiring!

    Madelief x

  13. I understand from my English in-laws that the broadcasts from the Chelsea Flower Show was on TWICE a day!! That's fantastic! You are so lucky!
    Thanks for these photos! xx

  14. Lovely photos, one day I will go...

  15. Every photo is lovely, but the one with the red, plum and ochre flowers is amazing.


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