We go down the day before, travel in style by first class rail courtesy of cheap advance tickets, have a couple of drinks and some nibbles on the train. Then off to our hotel 10 mins walk from Victoria and about 15 mins walk from Chelsea. Walk along the Thames in the evening to Westminster, have a quick look at what's going on there, and then to The Sanctuary just round the corner, an Ale and Pie pub.
Up bright and early Tuesday morning to make sure we get to the show as close to 8am as possible, the medals have just been awarded and the crowds haven't built up, so you can see the big show gardens easily. We walk up Main Avenue, taking in the gardens, and by about 1030 we've done the big ones and it's time for a coffee.
Some of the highlights for me this year in this category were:
The Monaco Garden
It was stunning, and I could just picture it recreated at the back of my house! Difficult to tell from this photo, but the planting was all orange and lilacs, and at the back was a green wall. This one shows the planting better
The Laurent-Perrier Garden
Again with some stunning planting by Luciano Giubbilei, beautiful mixture of colours.
The Irish Garden
This one by Diarmund Gavin had received a lot of press, and not all of it complimentary, especially the fact that it had a sky pod, suspended from a crane. Well, I thought it was great, and so did the judges as it got Diarmund his first gold medal. The planting was very clever, nearly all green, naturally for an Irish garden, but cleverly using different shades, shapes and textures. I wanted to walk in it, but only the celebs are allowed to do that !
The B and Q garden.
This was spectacular and featured the highest growing structure there's been at Chelsea. Not sure how the tomatoes from it would be harvested though. The garden was mainly edible plants, and featured an "insect hotel"
It even had a perspex garden table with goldfish swimming around in it.
The Trailfinders garden
This is done by a group of Australians who give up a month of their time and come over here to build a garden. Last year they'd created a swimming pool as part of it, and when we saw the garden at about 8.30am they were celebrating their gold medal by taking a dip, and drinking cans of beer. This year they were a bit more subdued. No pool, and only a silver gilt medal. But, I was pleased to see them come round a bit about 1030 as they someone announced that the bar was open, and jugs of Pimms were fetched. It was a beautiful garden, and I'm not sure why it didn't get a gold.
The Daily Telegraph Garden
This got Best in Show award for its designer Cleve West. It was one of my favourites. Some great planting with bright yellows, reds and white together
And it was slightly quirky in places, with lots of columns, some upright, some not, and water spouts in the wall.
This one also had one of my favourite flowers, not sure what it was - looked like a cross between a fir cone and a thistle.
There were many other lovely gardens, including a tropical one from Malaysia and one sponsored by the British Heart Foundation which was based on the structure of heart muscle! The only other one I'm going to post a picture of is the one from Leeds City Council. Last year they'd created a set of lock gates, and I didn't think they'd be able to surpass that, but they did. This year it was a water mill, complete with working mill wheel.
It looked as though it had been there years. We learned from one of the gardeners that the moss had been stuck onto the mill with glue. The planting was lovely, and hopefully the garden will get moved to a public display in Leeds, the last two are in Roundhay Park.
After the show gardens we take in some of the traded stands, of which there'd are hundreds, and look at the smaller gardens. This year there were two categories, Urban and Artisan. The urban ones are always fun, and I was quite impressed with the outdoor bright blue carpet in this one.
And the green wall and water feature in this one
Some of the trade stands are nearly as good as the gardens, selling every possible type of garden ornament, furniture, art work and water features. Not cheap though. I was admiring a water feature which was basically a large bowl with a fountain in it, and the woman next to me dared to enquire about the price. She paled slightly when it was revealed to be £14,000. Before VAT of course.
There was just time before lunch to pop into the Floral art marquee, where both individuals and groups submit flower arrangements to illustrate a theme and compete for medals.
This was the winner, and my favourite, but not sure I'd fancy wearing it.
Now it was time for a well earned sit down, and some refreshment. A pint of beer and fish and chips. It was a sod-the-diet day!
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