Saturday, 1 June 2013

Garden Notes from a Day at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

After a night spent listening to an enormous thunderstorm and torrential rain, I wasn't sure how much of the Chelsea Show Gardens there would be left to see last Saturday but shivering on a train platform in the early hours to arrive at the showground by 9.00 am was worth it to beat the crowds. The show gardens had stood up well to the rain, only the peonies looking somewhat beaten by the weather. A cold winter and spring had done little to dampen the beautiful green elegance on display and there's nothing like a pot of strawberries and cream for brunch to brighten the mood!
Although some of the big show gardens were a little staid and similar in style of planting for my taste, the overall effect of the Main Avenue was of polished excellence, I can see why so many gold medals were given out. It was hard to miss the Trailfinders Australian Garden, a piece of craggy outback transported to London and a real showstopper with it's sustainable billabong. The green parakeets in Ranelagh Gardens must have felt at home.
The fresh gardens were more interesting. The stark burnt branches contrasting with a sea of lush regrowth and gorgeous bright glazed terracotta seats and water feature of the After The Fire garden by James Basson at Scape Design for Cancer Research UK was an electric combination and my favourite of the show.
The Great Pavilion unfortunately smelt of wet bark chippings, never a good smell, fine for woodland and adventure playgrounds, not great for warm tents and was a complete circus with the crowds. Inside was every kind of glorious flower you could possibly want and then some more but my camera had given up by this point...
I came away from the show with, among other things, a metal topped, squirrel proof bird feeder (try and chew threw that fluffy!), a wild cherry tree sapling, a couple of distressed metal garden ornamental presents, a million ideas for next year and a fair idea of where to order pheasant eye daffodil bulbs in the autumn... I have tried to condense the essence of the show into a few headings and photos below should you wish to sprinkle a bit of Chelsea magic onto your own garden. There are also links to suppliers I thought were interesting.

Metal sculpture
Copper, piping, rusted, distressed, weathered, mesh animals, reds and silvers.

The M & G Centenary Garden ~ Windows Through Time

After the Fire

Insect hotels
Built into walls, seats, banks and hedging.

RBC Blue Water Roof Garden

Wall surfaces
Green walls, cement walls or sustainable wooden walls.

The Telegraph Garden

The Sonic Pangea Garden

The Wasteland (Kate Gould Gardens Ltd)

Garden buildings
Rectilinear bare pergolas or glass rooms.

The Arthritis Research UK Garden

Water features
Smooth running or textured down walls, collected in water tanks, wine coolers and pools. No loud splashing.
East Village Garden (Delancy)

Native plants and trees. Layered, meadowy, flowerbeds. Must have plant: Shuttlecock fern 
(Matteuccia struthiopteris) or moss.

 Stop the Spread (FERA)

The Brewin Dolphin Garden

B&Q Sentebale Forget-Me-Not Garden

Colour palette
Green, black, copper and orange or alternatively pink and grey.

Stoke On Trent's Story of Transformation

The 9 Billion Conservation Garden (Willmott Whyte)

The Mindfulness Garden (Martin Cook Studio)

For more of my photos from the show try on Flickr.
For more about the RHS and their fantastic shows try their website ~

Plants From the Great Pavilion

Barbados Horticultural Society

Perfect ornamental pink pineapples

Hampshire Carnivorous Plants

Pink carnivorous pitchers

Sculptures and Garden Suppliers

Tristan Cockerill

Lovely furniture pieces including driftwood tables.

James Doran-Webb

Extraordinary driftwood sculptures.

CJ Wildlife

Garden Wildlife experts.
Check out the Fiesta Nesta.


Zingy reclaimed metal bird and wildlife sculptures.

Big bean bags for outdoors.

FA Bartlett Tree Expert Company