It’s that time of year again where we get to stroll, relax, drink Pimms and see the creme-de-la-creme of the gardening world at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The RHS calls it ‘One of the greatest events in the horticultural calendar’.
Really? It felt more like Christmas shopping with five minuets to close where every man was out for himself trying to grab something quick to give to their loved ones. Only instead of Christmas gifts on sale it was a barrage of gardening tat. Rusty metal poles with rusty metal flowers, beautiful, I cannot wait to stick those in my garden, or the wobbling robing on a spring coil, or or or those well designed tree hanging spinning foil silhouettes. I thought John Lewis had won the award for most Olympic tat on sale, but I think Chelsea has pipped them to the post with their array of gardening stalls. Where were the flowers? Where were the show gardens? Oh they were behind the wall of ten deep people, roped off to let the BBC cameras in. I’m so glad I paid £180 for myself and three guests to wander the crowds of people trying to catch a glimpse of the gardens on offer.
When I finally managed to break free to the front rope I was greeted by gardens of little inspiration or excitement. One garden was just a fake lawn company that had covered two minis in fake grass and stuck them on rolls of real turf. Brilliant. The designer must have spent literally a coffee break coming up with that idea, either that or he had sat on his keyboard by mistake then hit the send button. Whoops I’ve just designed a garden.
Another Whoops garden was a garden designed around the QR code and unimaginatively called The QR Code Garden. Wonderful, a big plastic QR code that covered a back wall of ivy. “If you have a smart phone you can take a picture of it and it’ll actually take you to the website where you can read about the designer”, I was told by the very excited lady on hand. Well I do have a smart phone and no I shall not be wasting valuable battery time snapping this. I mean who in their right mind would have a giant QR code in their garden? Though maybe I could cut one into my hedge for the neighbour to scan telling him to get dressed when he collects his milk in the morning!
I’m very grateful that the Westland Magical Garden had been build as a towering pyramid of seven floors, because it gave me the opportunity to glance into the sky and see the top four floors. Crowds prevented me from getting close to the base. I gave up.
To be completely critical of this money making event would be wrong of me and there were a few nuggets of relief within the grounds. Firstly was the main tented area of show flowers and vegetables. They had the longest carrots, the biggest lilies and the brightest ‘Meconopsis Horridula’ I’d ever seen. (Google it – Slieve Donard’ variety lovely). The Opera in the band stand was very welcomed as we soaked up the glorious sunshine and we all got lots of free tote bags, advertising the sponsors.
A couple of show gardens I managed to get a glimpse of and really enjoyed were;
Satoyama Life – A real insight to living with nature with it’s moss covered wooden shack and babbling stream. If I could live like this I would! The garden also won a gold medal for best artisan garden.
Rooftop Workplace of Tomorrow – I loved this garden for many reasons. Firstly I have a roof garden myself. Secondly I love the idea of being outdoors when working. I meet so many people who say ‘I’m lucky to work outdoors’. This garden proves you can have great outdoor office space. My only critique is that they decided to call it a roof garden instead of a ground level garden as from experience of my 4th floor roof I can tell you some of their planting scheme will look pretty for the first week but after a year of strong winds, scorching sun, pigeons and hose pipe bans they may need a little rethink on what to plant. Though their garden design won them a silver medal.
So overall It was nice to spend time with family and friends, though if you’re serious about gardening and looking for inspiration then pop down to your local nursery and ask them to help you on what would be right for your garden, or send your questions to me – The Gay Gardener. You’ll find it a lot cheaper and a lot more inspirational.
As for the Pimms yes, we did partake in a jug between us. Which we had to pay a £10 deposit on in case we ran off with the 49p plastic jug!