A 3.30pm entry ticket to the Chelsea Flower Show on the Tuesday is a thing of great joy. The early bird day-trippers are feeling weary and drift off home allowing you to tour the plantsman’s paradise that is the grand pavilion with relative ease and whilst the exhibits are still fresh and crisp from the previous day’s judging. After a reviving tea break you can then promenade around the outside show gardens in the evening sunshine. At 5.30 the atmosphere changes once again as the final tranche of show goers are allowed entry, and with only a couple of hours of show time available these guys are not here for the primroses as much as the Pimms, and with their rather racy wives in tow the whole place takes on the air of a cosmopolitan outdoor cocktail party, with rucksacks and walking boots being replaced by panamas and pashminas.

Chelsea moves up sartorial gear at 5.30pm
Chelsea moves up sartorial gear at 5.30pm


So is 2016 the best Chelsea ever? Well it is pretty damn good. The two heavyweights Andy Sturgeon and Cleve West have worked their magic once again, Dairmuid Gavin provides the children’s entertainment and between these two extremes are innovative and thought provoking works of gardening art.

 

Everyone adores Kevock's display
Everyone adores Kevock’s display

What wowed me today?  The meconopsis on the Kevock Garden Plants stand, the planting on Andy Sturgeon’s Telegraph garden (no one does burnt orange as well as Andy), Nigel Hewitt-Coopers Carnivorous Plants (his umpteenth Gold) and the young man demonstrating a wonderful depth of horticultural knowledge in a broad Highland accent on the Binny Plants stand  clad in a rather fetching camouflage kilt; I do hope he is still on duty on Saturday when we have our girls day out.

Binny Plants stand - oh gosh!
Binny Plants stand – oh gosh!

And Caroline, you’re in luck as I’ve already sourced a fine specimen of the Clematis Princess Kate which succumbed to your post lunchtime ‘crump’ last year. Given the news that every adult Scot now annually knocks back the equivalent of 41 bottles of vodka, we’ll ask Taylor’s Clematis to bubble wrap it for you this year.

Elaine
Elaine

In contrast I don’t want to sound too sanctimonious but the need to earn an honest crust means I won’t get to Chelsea until Saturday. I have put all the programmes on Series-Link, so I will confine my observations to those for the moment.

The afternoon progs seem a little more….zingy this year I’m pleased to say.  A lot less of Nicky Chapman sticking peonies into a posy, and more of various presenters like Rachel de Thame and Toby Buckland chipping in with their two penny’th on various topics.  I have no idea why some quite long chunks are then repeated in the evening show, though – in these iPlayer days, it seems rather lazy programme-planning to me.
I fully realise that I should be talking about the gardens but….what was Carol Klein thinking! That outfit on Queenie Day!  I hope Diarmuid Gavin didn’t see it and get some ideas for his next show garden.  Rest assured, I shall be wearing something much more sedate on Saturday, in orange and pink with glittery purple stripes.
Andy Sturgeon's isoplexis - enough to get Laura on Twitter
Andy Sturgeon’s isoplexis – enough to get Laura on Twitter

The great Gold Medal/Best in Show debate.  Hmm, well, Andy Sturgeon’s garden is not doing it for me so far – too dry, too much hard landscaping etc.  I am willing to be swayed, but Laura, can we be sure that your enthusiasm for ‘the planting’ wasn’t swayed by your ability to heave your first ever tweet out into the world, of an Isoplexis in his garden?  Trendily burnt-orange it may be, but does one Isoplexis make a summer, one must ask?

It was painful watching poor Matthew Wilson receive his Silver Medal, wasn’t it? The Beeb followed that little episode with a long feature about all the amazing work by dozens of people that went into the making of his Garden for Yorkshire.  Cut back to Medals Day and the swines asked him how he felt about his medal – ah, it was can excruciating moment.
Laura points to Caroline's 2016 Chelsea Challenge - Clematis 'Princess Kate'
Laura points to Caroline’s 2016 Chelsea Challenge – Clematis ‘Princess Kate’

Looking forward to meeting the chap with the camouflage kilt – not something you see every day; and I am glad to hear that Princess Kate is likely to get another crack at a Royal Walkabout – let’s hope HRH makes it further than Battersea carpark this time.

 

Nothing but lemonade for me the year don’t worry :/ Personally I could do with Chelsea TV coverage getting a revamp – it’s feeling a bit samey to me, very focused on the presenters and the BBC’s view of the show. The endless hyperbole gets on my t*ts a bit but perhaps the Chelsea format also needs a shake-up – have the show gardens aspect exhausted their potential to develop? I’m not sure…what do you think?

On top of all the Chelsea excitement this week, it’s true…. Laura and Elaine are now Tweeting using @3growbags – a feat not to be underestimated or indeed anticipated with any hope of success. After son Toby gave her close tuition at the weekend Elaine announced “I’ve Retweeted!” as though a long hoped for bodily function had finally occurred.  It followed her first photo post  – a gloomy image of flowers that wouldn’t look out of place in The Exorcist, with the quirky caption ‘My Sweetpeas’ which, to be fair, you do actually need to have explained. We haven’t had Laura in action yet but stand by for something like this to be posted: ‘Tim pls let the dogs out. Crunchie still @thefarm I’m #20 in tea queue’. I fear a basic misunderstanding about Twitter.

But never underestimate a Growbag – after soft fruit cuttings, how hard can Twitter be? We’ll find out this week – do follow us @3growbags

We’ll all be together at Chelsea on Saturday together with some of Elaine’s equally badly behaved friends. We’ll look forward to sharing our opinions and getting yours…

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