|(I think they were enjoying how excited I was to be there!)|
If readers of this blog can possibly bear to read another post about the Chelsea Flower Show (there have been so many and such excellent coverage this year), I really do want to write about my day out. It was a corker and my thanks go to Interflora yet again for my prize of two Saturday tickets.
As it happens, the RHS press office also stumped up an eleventh hour press pass but by this time I could only go in the afternoon on Tuesday so whizzed over to collect a show catalogue and have a quick look round. Tuesday is the first day that it's open to the public and the show was absolutely mobbed - and got worse in the evening slot. I dislike pushing (and being pushed!) so, at the back of a deep crowd, I decided to leave most of the show gardens until early Saturday morning … and be grateful that there wasn't an editor waiting for my copy before going to press!
It certainly wasn't a wasted afternoon though; as I knew I'd be returning, I was able to drift through the crowds making the most of any gaps that I spotted. Thus, I got to chat with Paul Hervey-Brookes who designed the Brand Alley garden; drawn firmly from the early Italian Renaissance gardens, it was awarded a bronze but I thought there were many ideas in the space that could easily be taken forward into a domestic setting. (Don't be surprised if I come back to this topic.) Just look at that gorgeous raspberry colour!
I'm suspecting a favourite colour theme going on here …
|Paul Hervey-Brookes. |
A lovely chap who took the time to tell me about his garden and let me wander round - yes! I went beyond the fence!
I stood next to designers Wayne Hemingway (remember avant-garde fashion house Red or Dead?) and his wife Gerardine as they discussed their thoughts on the Telegraph garden for the BBC cameras (they loved the structure and planting but thought the marble was overused. It should be noted they have a large pristine lawn in their own garden.).
I worked my way along one edge of the Cloudy Bay garden, listening to the comments all around me. My impression was that the grasses seemed to dominate the planting but there was a lovely airiness to the garden. I was able to name a few of the plants for a gaggle of ladies behind me as Andrew Wilson, one of the designers and head of the Society of Garden Designers, passed by which earned me one of his famous beaming smiles. Seems like a nice chap.
We all wondered about this one which I was told was Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus, or Gladioli byzantina if you prefer. A truly gorgeous eye-catching colour that had been teamed beautifully with burgundy astrantias, purple salvias, red roses, lavender Baptisia australis and pink campions (Silene). It's a plant that needs to be the star of the show with a strong supporting cast!
Put that bed together with the larger Cloudy Bay planting that included purple Allium hollandicum, irises, verbascum, Ammi majus, bronze fennel, foxgloves, aquilegia and, of course, grasses (Deschampsia) and it all becomes rather beautiful - like one of Hannah McVicar's illustrations.
A proper brick-based greenhouse has long been on my wish list so the sight of the Alitex stand lured me over. Admiring the wonderful veg growing within and fabulous planting without, I was introduced to the charity Thrive who help disabled people towards a life of health and wellbeing through gardening. The plants had all been grown by Thrive gardeners in Battersea. Hearing about their work and subsequently reading their website, I feel a separate post about this marvellous charity is called for.
I was glad to glimpse the Homebase garden 'A Time to Reflect' for the Alzheimer's Society. Adam Frost had created a calm, peaceful space filled with memories and sounds. My much-loved dad has early Alzheimer's so this garden was especially poignant for me and reminded me of our childhood days on the beach and in the countryside as a very happy united family.
My plant highlight of Tuesday afternoon was this Chrysanthemum coronarium or chopsuey greens, mainly because I'm growing this for the first time! This is a fast growing vegetable that can be on your plate 6 weeks after sowing, likes part shade and every bit of it can be eaten. And rather pretty to boot!
I finished my Tuesday outing with an evening lecture at the Royal Geographical Society; the event was an 'in conversation' talk from garden designers Dan Pearson and Fergus Garrett, hosted by Anna Pavord. I came away with a deep respect for Dan Pearson whose gardening philosophies I thoroughly agree with. It was a splendid event where they talked about their childhood and adult influences, their horticultural backgrounds, gardening styles and what they thought of the Chelsea show. I particularly liked Dan's phrase that as a gardener he likes to "sit gently on the land, preferring to grow with a garden and be a part of it rather than to transpose yourself onto it. I like that.
I went back to Chelsea on Saturday and will be writing up highlights of that day in my next post - the bold, the bonkers and the beautiful - including my thoughts on Cleve West's garden which, yes, I eventually got to see and thought utterly delightful.