In a double whammy of gardening gloriousness, I went to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. It was an incredible, exhausting, overwhelming, heaving, wonderful day. Thankfully I went with a close friend and we supported each other throughout the day with regular pit-stops of coffee to keep us going for the many hours we were there. We arrived mid-morning and didn’t leave until the evening, finishing off the day with a sit around the band stand as we chatted about our highlights and favourites.
Did I mention it was absolutely heaving?
Honestly, I’m surrounded by crowds
I’m not good with large, dense crowds for long periods of time but there was so much distraction with the exhibits, displays, gardens, plants and flowers that it was actually tolerable. I wouldn’t like to do it every day. There was so much to see and so much to look at that – while we did manage to get round most of it – we glossed over some parts of the show for others. The weather was forecast to be overcast with possible rain showers. We were very lucky that the cloud kept the temperatures down and we only suffered a few small rain drops that wouldn’t have dampened a Ryvita. We would have been flagging if it was actually hot.
The phone camera didn’t last as long as I wanted it to and I was more focussed on the displays than the camera could manage some times but here are a selection of pictures that show various parts of the show, ranging from the floral marquee to the artisan gardens.
I call it “impossible Chelsea” because the show garden planting – while stunning – feels like a perfect snapshot in time of the plants at the perfect stage in terms for size and flowering. We saw dahlias flowering with foxgloves (these two flower at completely different times of year) and we saw shrubs such as Sambucus Nigra planted as small specimens whereas these would grow to several metres in a couple of years and shade out everything around it. Much of the show garden planting feels like this kind of fabrication and while it is stunningly pretty and there is real skill in the design work, it’s only viable for a short moment before the more invasive plants grow over the delicate ones, the small bushes grow into large shrubs and the trees grow to shade out everything else.
With this in mind it doesn’t make sense to compare the Chelsea Flower Show with “normal” gardens, indeed it wouldn’t be wise to copy the planting schemes, after all, it’s not called the Chelsea Garden Show. I don’t feel as though I took home any ideas or was “inspired” from the Flower Show, instead I spent the whole day absorbing the mind-boggling beauty of flowering plants. Textures, colours, scents, sizes, forms, it’s the sheer variety of plants – most encountered for the first time – and the exquisite way they’re displayed that left me awe-struck.
I guess that’s why they call it a “Flower Show”.