Press day may have been grey and wet on the outside …
but it was full of colour inside the Great Pavilion
Not to mention fragrance (note to self: why have I never grown stocks before? they look and smell divine)
The show gardens are all about ‘grown up’ gardening, but inside the floral pavilion, there’s a sense of fun amid the showmanship
Growers from around the world bring the best of their blooms
But there’s space for the humble potato too: this display told the history of spud with as much élan as the more floriferous stands
Floristry can get a bit overlooked at Chelsea too, such is the mania for the show gardens, but the displays are always worth looking at for colour, invention and sheer pizzazz
The show gardens are amazing though, the crazy catwalk creations whose ideas, colours and plant combinations will eventually trickle down to our front and back gardens in the fulness of time. Monday’s weather was not universally kind to the show gardens, and the ones that aimed to evoke sunnier climes didn’t, to my mind, look their best under leaden skies (but were transformed once the sun shone on them)
Although, ironically the Sentebale garden looked quite at home despite the rain, evoking a lush Lesotho landscape. The paling fence would translate quite nicely to a ‘real’ garden I thought.
In among the sweeping hard landscaping, there were some painterly plant combinations, such as this swooshy tulip and grass combination on the Telegraph garden:
and I particularly liked the very pretty plant palette used by Chris Beardshaw on his Healthy Cities Garden. The mauve verbascum is ‘Merlin’.
And can you spot the cheeky protea in among the oh-so-English box balls, alliums and aquilegia in Charlie Albone’s The Time in Between Garden:
And, for so believable-it’s-unbelievable naturalism, the planting on Dan Pearson’s Laurent Perrier Chatsworth garden (rewarded with a gold medal and Best in Show)
In scale at least, the Artisan gardens offer a glimpse of what might be achieved in a small, domestic scale plot, as well as a more accessible narrative. I loved the Sussex trugmaker’s garden created by Serena Fremantle and Tina Vallis with its pretty tumbling mounds of cottage plants and framing trees:
and also the vision and precision of Ishihara Kazuyuki in his miniature masterpiece, the Edo no Niwa garden:
Returning to Main Avenue, I enjoyed looking at Great Chelsea Garden Challenge winner Sean Murray’s front garden design. A bit too much slate for me, but the planting was good (some well-deployed angelicas) and I love that his design highlighted the problem of paved-over front gardens and came up with a practical solution that found space for car, people and plants alike. I may have a go making those rusted tin can insect hotels too!
And finally, making my way back out of the show ground, a last lingering look at Jo Thompson’s gorgeous garden for show’s sponsors M&G Investments. It may have missed out on a gold medal, but who wouldn’t want a retreat like this – a waterside hideaway with pitch perfect planting, and a natural swimming pool to plunge into when writer’s block strikes?