Every year I make sure I get some time at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and, despite the crowds and hype, I am never disappointed. In fact, I usually come back with my head buzzing with ideas, planting combos and the odd new technique and, weather aside, this year was no exception.
|Best in Show: Cleve West's take of old meets new in this spectacular feast of mixed planting sponsored by the Daily Telegraph|
Hubbie and I always go on the Thursday evening. It's cheap, a little less crowded and we can get a day's work in beforehand. As we arrived this time, though, our thoughts of Pimm's on the lawn were washed away as we were met by Hurricane Chelsea. The heavens opened, hail issued forth and the winds whipped the bamboos to a horizontal posture. What happened next was a miracle: everyone went home and then the sun came out. So prepare yourself for a visual feast as for once I got some stunning photos because Joe Public wasn't getting in the way. We even managed some Pimm's, albeit it on a soggy lawn.
Following our usual routine, we took in the big show gardens first, which seemed more believable after the deluge. One of the things I love about plants is the way they visibly perk when treated well and similarly wilt when abused; much like people really. In the big gardens we had the Daily Telegraph's Best in Show, seen above, and dear old Diarmuid Gavin's Irish Sky Garden. Sadly the suspended pod thing was down as the winds might have transported it to the Thames, but it still looked spectacular, if you like that sort of thing. He was inspired by Avatar, apparently, which accounts for a lot as I thought the film was ridiculous. When you use a tin opener to expose human emotion, you negate the need for emotive translation and thought, which sums up this impressive but too demential garden. It was lucky to get a gold. But I am obviously in a minority as it was voted the People's Choice.
|OK not a great shot of Diarmuid Gavin's garden but as all the flowers were in the pod it was hard to do much more than share the emeraldness of it all|
|Laurent-Perrier, always a class act|
|The Child's Garden, daring to be shambolic, hence Silver not Gold, but I loved it|
Next up was the Artisan Garden Best in Show, which was a jaw dropper. Emptying One's Mind (Hae-woo-so) by Jihae Hwang was the representation of essentially an outside loo where presumably you got to empty more than just your mind. Hae-woo-so is literally Korean for toilet where they believe going to the loo is a spiritual experience. I can see that. The attention to detail in this garden was astonishing, technical and aesthetic in equal measure. The space was awash with detail without looking at all staged. If the journey to the outside privy was that lovely, even I might be tempted.
|A South Korean vision of mind over matter|
Then just as I thought it couldn't get any better, we found A Postcard from Wales by Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes. I just loved it. Somehow the damp atmosphere suited it perfectly and with the rain-soaked, unkempt lawn and soggy shingle beach we were taken to Wales through a very lovely mind's eye. I particularly liked the way they had underplanted their alliums with Stachys byzantia. Alliums have great blooms but minimum foliage so giving them a bed of those silvery lamb's ears worked perfectly.
|Welsh lamb's ears at their best|
Next, with Pimm's in hand, we headed off to the Grand Marquee to find, under strict instructions from my Mother, the Plant of Show, Anenome Wild Swan, which has stunning large white flowers with pale blue stripes on the exterior of the petals. Unlike many anenomes, this one has large flowers but is on the short side so ideal for the front of a border.
|Anemone, Wild Swan, nodding attractively|
|I like it big, I like it chunky (not a Madagascar fan? pity)|
|Getting the Urban Garden right|
|Struggling to see the resemblance? Oh well I'll just have to keep on trying. Maybe next year...|