Tuesday afternoon I got the chance to visit the Flower Show with my friend Rosie. We had tickets for the late 3.30pm slot and edged our way through the crowds to see the gardens. This is the gardening show for me, I love the London location, the sight of those super smart, scarlet clad Chelsea pensioners, the floral window displays of the shops on the Kings Road. Even the Estate agents get in the spirit, filling their (colourful) boots with……
flowers. The morning ticket visitors throng the pavements clutching their wierd and wonderful purchases, threatening to take out passers-by not paying enough attention to the protruding items. The secret whispers of the ticket touts lining the route add to the excitement as you approach the gates.
Once through the gates, we made our way along the avenue towards the Show gardens. 2014 has seen the introduction of some young new designers so I was hoping for some new interesting ideas. There seemed to be more colour in general this year and a much more naturalistic, fluffy loose style of planting. Nothing new in that perhaps but certainly a different style overall for Chelsea. In previous years there has been Purple Sensation Alliums and Bearded Iris everywhere; this year however I either failed to notice them or perhaps there were just less of the beardy types. There were lots of the rather elegant Iris sibirica in many of the gardens, including at the ‘No Man’s Land’ Garden by Charlotte Rowe.
There were Allium Nectaroscordum bulgarium as seen in the opening image which I love. There was also an abundance of Anthriscus sylvestris ‘ Ravenswing’ with Astrantia, in this case Astrantia major ‘Roma’.
The Cottage garden staple Aquilegia vulgaris in dark bruised colours such as Aquilegia vulgaris ‘Ruby Port’ popped up in a number of gardens, almost as if they had self seeded themselves around the Show.
There were lots of grasses, including the fabulous Stipa gigantea but seemingly less of the designer favourite Stipa tenumissima, instead there seemed to be regular use of Briza media.
Another Cottage garden staple, the Lupin, was used by many of the designers including the Best in Show garden. I have always thought them to be rather old fashioned and perhaps even a little brash, tending to associate them with the bright colours displayed in the floral pavilion. This is Lupinus ‘Chandelier’ (Band of Nobles Series) mixed with Lupinus ‘Cashmere Cream’ as used by designer Luciano Giubbilei for his Best in Show Laurent-Perrier garden. Anything but brash, the planting of this garden looked effortless, relaxed and very beautiful and it contrasted and complimented the hard landscaping which was a mix of limestone and some of the smartest vertical concrete I have ever seen.
The Telegraph Garden was for me a very corporate looking garden, suited perhaps to a boutique hotel, created by design partnership del Buono Gazerwitz. Unusually the design included a large lawn area, seemingly pinned in to place by huge cushion shape Box mounds. The favourite part of the garden for me was an area of seating in the form of white metal 50s styled table and chairs by Knoll, under an area of ten clipped Lime trees, Tilia x europea ‘Pallida’. I could imagine this area in Italy, on a hot Summer’s afternoon, chilled glass of something waiting…..
I thought that the Show seemed less frantic and slightly less congested this year, able to get close to the Show Gardens without waiting too long, if at all in some places. The gardens were all wonderful and there were lots of lovely ideas: How about growing your Clematis as a trailer out of a pot for a change?
This was in the M&G garden designed by Cleve West and the Clematis is Clematis ‘Westerplatte’.
Elsewhere there were some rather neat lights spotted amongst the foliage which I thought would suit a Town or country setting:These were spotted in The Wellchild Garden designed by Olivia Kirk and the bronze lights are by Chelsea Lighting Design.
Jekka mcVicar had a beautiful stand displaying a snapshot of her organic herbs. The stand has packets and packets of different seeds to buy as well as some rather attractive art, pictures of herbs, of course. Look at the magnificant flower head of Angelica archangelica, how on earth did they manage to transport that in one piece?
The Great Pavilion was a feast for the eyes and I was drawn this year to the Hostas and Auriculas. Drointon Nurseries Ltd got Gold for their beautiful display of Auricula and the owners, Robin and Annabel Graham were charming, happy to converse with us while the camera crews blocked their stand pending an article with Joe Swift. So taken with them and their display we returned later to each purchase a set of plug plants to take home.
The best Artisan garden was by Kazuyuki Design. The design was said to be created “to take the memory of the scenery away with you, to recall and be comforted by, when feeling troubled”. Well I am pleased to say that I am not feeling troubled however I do take pleasure in the memory of Chelsea 2014. I will share my shot of the beautiful trees in the Kazuyuki’s garden. How extraordinary to think that they will be ripped up and taken away in a few days time.