If Chelsea truly taps into the zeitgeist of the horticultural world then there are some definite trends emerging. It is now mandatory to have a scruffy garden in which at least half the plants (formerly referred to as weeds) must be edible.
Alongside you will need a state of the art outdoor kitchen and a range of Ottolenghi recipes – slinging a few sausages on the barbie no longer cuts the mustard.
We also all need to instal a tree fern – bright colours are out, ferns are in.
If you absolutely insist on planting a proper garden plant it must either be a camassia or a thalictrum. And the only acceptable rose is ‘Mutabilis’.
On Saturday all three of us got together and, with the (slightly drink-fuelled) 4pm plant sell-off in prospect, we really got the Chelsea ‘here comes summer’ vibe.
So what about the gardens. We were at one with Monty this year. Sarah Price’s gorgeous Benton irises and lime washed backgrounds…. to die for. As for the others, Chris Beardshaw’s myeloma garden… immaculate; Jihae Hwang’s Korean garden….would ‘slightly dull but worthy’ cover it?; Mark Gregory’s Savills’ garden…raised-bed gardening with knobs on, but very pleasing knobs.
No doubt, like us, you’ve been devouring the BBC coverage this week, and taking it with a pinch of salt. For instance, Toby Buckland gamely attempting to show us how we could apply show garden techniques in our own gardens. Really? The gorilla nest on the Fauna and Flora garden? Or indeed Cleve West’s upturned tree covered in nettles and brambles. Frankly there is rewilding and then there’s a ghastly mess!
So down to the customary 3Growbags special awards.
First up the best overheard comment goes to an audible aside from Joe Swift to Sophie Raworth whilst perched on a protruding gantry above the ‘Cavernoma on My Mind’ garden: ‘don’t think we’ll recreate that scene from Titanic – that didn’t end well….’
A close second was a weary husband muttering to his wife ‘we’ve been here for an hour already and only looked at four gardens, this is worse than taking you round IKEA’
And runner up was Caroline’s neighbour as she was directing the stall holder to the variety of lily bulb she wanted ‘I’m looking for Eternal Love’ to which he sighed philosophically ‘Ah, we’re all looking for that ..’
Plant we most wanted to take home.
For Laura this was the latte-coloured floribunda rose on the Peter Beales stand ‘Koko Loko’ despite the withering looks from Elaine.
Caroline fell for the gorgeous Rhododendron ‘Daviesii’ which would actually be a safe bet for her in the Scottish Highlands as it can apparently withstand -20
Elaine admits that she absolutely doesn’t need more roses, but considered R. ‘Dannihue’ a new introduction from David Austin, a total beaut.
‘What Da’ moments came thick and fast Elaine’s was the jarringly coloured ‘insect’s eye’ laboratory in the middle of the Royal Entomological Society Garden.
Whilst Caroline felt the ‘back to nature’ theme had been taken just a little too far in some of the floristry exhibits
And Laura felt that the starkly sterile seating area in the RBC Brewin Dolphin garden, whose only focal point was a central drain grating, had been slightly improved by the orange powder sprayed all over it by the Just Stop Oil protesters
There were a couple of moments of pure fabulosity – Laura’s WAY over-the-top excitement when she found the weird horse chestnut taking over a large area of Chris Beardshaw’s garden had won its own special prize. She started telling anyone who would listen literally ALL about it:
Caroline’s best moment was the realisation that her daughter Briege, who had mainly been invited along for decorative purposes was actually showing a genuine interest in the way plants grow.
And Elaine’s was definitely as she contentedly walked out of the show ground, following the green-velveted behinds of the girls who had sung 40’s songs so wonderfully on the Ranelagh Gardens Bandstand an hour earlier.
Don’t they look FABULOUS! They can really sing too……we’re thinking of getting similar matching outfits for Chelsea 2024
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Another huge theme at Chelsea was encouraging pollinators so we decided to offer our lovely Bee House free of P&P this week! Simply add the code FREE23 in the coupon box at the check-out
This little grass was on nearly every stand at Chelsea – it’s very trendy right now, but it comes with a health warning! Nevertheless it’s Louise’s Great Plant this Month