Thursday, 21 May 2009

A most unexpected pleasure…

Yesterday evening after work, I went to The Chelsea Flower show. A girl who I work with had a spare ticket and knowing my interest in gardens she invited me along. So, at 5:30 sharp we jumped on the tube to Sloane Square and I had my first Chelsea experience. It is an absolutely wonderful event and I came away wanting to give up my job and get stuck into my own garden. I have watched The Chelsea Flower show on the TV for years and I am fascinated at how these gardens spring up in the centre of London for 5 days of the year and then vanish.

There was a huge variety of different gardens to look at. The Laurent Perrier Garden had
the most wonderful group of purple flowers, irises, peonies and tulips. If a tiny corner of my garden could look like that I would be very pleased indeed.

The Daily Telegraph garden was very elegant and again had some lovely purple planting.

The Key garden was a wonderful mix of planting and planters. A gentleman who had once been homeless explained to me the thinking behind the corner of the garden that he had put together. Breaking with convention he had planted edible plants next to poisonous ones, spiky leaves next to soft. He had been given the pick of all the plants and he said it was like being a child in a sweetshop. His enthusiasm really demonstrated the good work being done by the Homes and Communities Agency who put together the garden in partnership with the Eden Project.

My favourite part was in the great pavilion, looking at all of the perfect specimens of every variety of plant that you can imagine. The work that goes in to creating these stalls must be enormous. I learnt that there are over 24,000 named varieties of daffodil

and the secret to growing 2ft long parsnips is a very large bucket!

It is so striking to see a whole group of varieties together, as in most gardens they are mixed in with lots of other plants. There were some wonderful alliums, these are one of my favourite plants but my small patch at home is tiny compared to these beautiful examples.

James May’s garden was very busy and rightly so as it is a wonderful piece of art.

He has taken the idea of a child’s fantasy garden and recreated it, along with the help of children, model makers and Chelsea pensioners, in plasticine. Everything you see is made of plasticine, right down to the soil the plants sit in. The bust, also made of plasticine, is a tribute to the materials inventor William Harbutt.

My favourite garden was entitled ‘1984’

Described as “a modern urban retreat with a nod to the kitsch, built with cost efficiency in mind for our cash-strapped world!” Of all the gardens I saw it was the one that I thought I could replicate in my own garden.

And just for my Dad, there was a Harley Davidson inspired garden c
alled “The Ace of Spades”. It was built in the shape of a spade and the plants, which were all very dark purples and greens, were potted up in old tyres.

I was completely bowled over by Chelsea, I only got to spend 2 hours there, but I had such a wonderful time. It is amazing to think how much time and effort goes in to putting it together. I will definitely be trying to get tickets for next year!

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