Chelsea Flower Show 2014

I’d never been to the Chelsea Flower Show.  The thought of large crowds getting in my way and blocking what I want to see has always put me off.  That and being constantly pestered by celebrities.  But I didn’t hesitate when I won a  ticket for Press Day (for last year’s RHS blogging competition).  I slicked down my hair, fished out some non-gardening clothes (tricky) and caught an amusingly expensive train up to town.

Here is just a little of what I saw.

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Of the Show Gardens, I particularly liked Cleve West’s ‘The M&G Garden’.  There is a similar area of gravel at the Old Forge (one of the gardens I work in) which I have recently started to plant.

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There were plenty of ideas here for me to filch and use.

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The pleached limes in ‘The Telegraph Garden‘ were magnificent.

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I’ve tried to convince the Priory owner to let me plant some.  Hopefully I’ve just won my argument.

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The ‘Laurent-Perrier Garden‘ was cool and alluring on a scorching hot May day.

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What might have proved insipid was actually very effective: a combination of yellows, whites and pale blue.  And green.

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This stream of irises by Hugo Bugg caught my eye too.  Though he and his pals could have moved out of shot for me.

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The Topiarist’s Garden

Generally, I preferred the smaller Artisan Gardens –

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DialAFlight Potter’s Garden

they seemed more intimate and less monied; less corporate HQ.  And they seemed to attract less media attention – which suited me fine.

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And the ‘Potter’s Garden’ had somewhere cosy to sit with a mug of earl grey on a drizzly afternoon.  A must for any garden.

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I loved ‘Togenkyo’ (also in the Artisan Gardens) where the acers were on fire (not literally)

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whilst Viking Cruises ‘Norse Garden‘ was almost chilly in comparison.

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And it featured a sight you don’t often see: a viking in full battle gear … with a plastic watering can.

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Marching delphiniums

But it was the show tent where I truly became absorbed (and spent most of my day).

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I was absorbed by plants mostly, like these aliums; but sometimes simply by a quite marvelous hat.

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It was interesting which displays drew me in and which I passed with hardly a glance (sorry hyacinths, sorry veg).

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I’m rubbish at growing sarracenias – this is how it’s done.

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A life long fascination with ferns had me enthralled by Rickards Ferns, and I spent an age mouthing unpronounceable names.

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Agapanthus is another favourite

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as is cacti.  I idly wondered whether these were fake

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such was their perfection.

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An acer stand is always going to reel me in and I’ve feverishly scribbled down the name of this one with its finely cut leaves: Acer linearilobum ‘Scolopendrifolium’.

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Hostas have started doing it for me too.

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There was such a huge variety; from the large leafed

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to the dainty.

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I spent an unseemly amount of time with the auriculas of Drointon Nursery.

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I stood, hugging my arms and rocking, until people stopped to stare.  I feel another collection coming on.

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A flowering dogwood not even part of the show. Just quietly looking gorgeous in a backwater of the ground

A particular highlight for me yesterday was meeting a babble/a broadside/a blather/a verbosity of bloggers – whatever the collective noun might be.  This was a first for me: chatting and laughing with people who write blogs.  Some of them I’ve known for several years ‘online’ so it was a little strange to meet them for real.  And do you know what?  They were all perfectly friendly, jolly nice and relatively normal.  (That was a relief).

Odd isn’t it?  I travel all that way and didn’t return with one plant.  Just some new friends.

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The garden bloggers I met were:

Alison (The Blackberry Garden)

Celia (Purple Podded Peas)

Harriet (Whichford Pottery)

Helen (The Patient Gardener)

Mark and Gaz (Alternative Eden)

Most of them have written about their day at Chelsea too.

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53 thoughts on “Chelsea Flower Show 2014

  1. It looks fantastic, there seemed to be lots of interesting gardens this year.I sound as if I was actually there, when in fact, I was only there in a virtual way, but tv coverage has been so extensive, everything is very familiar. Planning to go next year!
    You will live to regret starting an Auricula collection, as I know to my peril. It does become a tad obsessive …

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  2. I managed to get there on Tuesday afternoon on a pass but it was so crowded that I spent most of the time bobbing up and down at the back. I always feel like a hobbit amongst humans at these events. I caught a glimpse of the Laurent Perrier garden, loved the lupins, but will have to wait until my full day on Saturday at the show before I can properly see the other gardens. Needless to say, I’ll be there as the gates open. Btw, the show gets even more crowded when the evening ticket holders turn up – by 5.30 the audience for the show gardens was 5 deep. They don’t chuck the all day ticket holders out when the evening peeps arrive so it’s a total scrum by the evening. It’s totally worth going for the day and getting there early!

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    • Hi Caro, you’ll need to carry a step-ladder around with you. Someone else was telling me that it was quieter late afternoon after people drifted away (hence my comment to Amelia) but thanks. It seems that isn’t a given by any means. I hope you have a fine day today in your twelve inch stilettos. Dave

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  3. I am very ambivalent about Chelsea. So much of it has no possible relevance to my scrabbling efforts to make a garden in a field on a hillside in Wales and going to Malvern and Hampton Court shows in the past has made me feel pretty overwhelmed. I never know whether to be inspired or depressed! This year family commitments meant going to Chelsea wasn’t even on the cards so I shall regard having read your blog as not the next best thing, but the best thing as you have given me the inspiration without the depression!

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    • Hello Elizabeth, I can understand how you feel about shows even though this is the first I’ve been to but I’m pleased I didn’t depress you! I was only going to write one post so I had to cram everything in whilst keeping it relatively short. Too many thoughts about the gardens was out – though there were certainly a few deigns that left me unimpressed. (I also figured that there would be loads of other Chelsea blogposts around – and there certainly are). Incidentally, the NIght Sky Garden might have have had some relevance to you as it was inspired by the Brecon Beacons? I’d certainly go to Chelsea again, the inspiration and plants were pretty damn fine and I didn’t find it at all depressing. Perhaps I might have, had I had the crowds to contend with! Dave

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  4. Good to read your take on Chelsea. As Wellyman said, a pity we didn’t meet but hopefully next year.
    I know what you mean about meeting people from blogs or Twitter in the flesh. It’s odd because you feel you know them but then they’re not quite how you imagined. I tend to forget they don’t actually know my name. I’ve made some really good friends that I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. It’s fantastic to think technology can bring people together in this way.
    The auriculas were stunning weren’t they? And the pristiness of the hostas…. oh I can dream. I’m tempted to ditch mine which are starting to resemble doilies despite the copper tape around their pots.

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    • I don’t know why my pot-hostas aren’t bothered by slugs, WW – but I’m very grateful that they’re not. When I started blogging it didn’t even cross my mind that it would be a means to ‘meet’ people. (But then when I started my blog, I thought it would only last for a couple of weeks before I grew bored). Meeting people certainly has been a rewarding bonus – and to form online friendships with people across the world as well! Who’d have thought? I didn’t intend to write about Chelsea at all and rather enjoyed it all the more without that hanging over me. But I took so many photos it seemed a shame not to use them – if only in a superficial, swiftly written post. Many bloggers have written considered and thoughtful reviews but frankly, I couldn’t be bothered! I’m very surprised how many views this post is getting – no sign yet of Chelsea-fatigue it seems. And yes, hopefully we’ll meet next year (at least I for one shall know your name – if not PL’s!). D

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  5. You sound as if you had a wonderful time, how marvellous to meet up with other bloggers, that must have made it the perfect visit. I’m watching on TV each day, so it was good to see your view on everything. Those hostas look perfect, I’m not surprised you’re tempted!

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    • Hi Pauline, I’ve watched some of the coverage on TV but I do admit to a little Chelsea-overload now. And garden blogging is such a solitary process that meeting people from the same odd-hunched-over-keyboard-world was a real treat. Dave

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  6. I spent quite a lot of time looking at the Artisan’s gardens – a lovely cool spot to quietly go through the intricate details of each garden. Yes, it is usually quieter there, but the smaller space makes for quite a scrum when there’s a press call. Shame we didn’t get to meet, it looks like you and the others were having fun 🙂

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    • Hi VP, it was fun – and yes, sorry we didn’t get to meet. Chatting to fellow bloggers (it was a tweet-up, apparently) was sorely needed after I had wandered around alone for a couple of hours. Funny isn’t it how you get to know someone online and yet when you meet them for real it is still a (pleasant) surprise – or at least it was with the few I met on Monday. I had made some assumptions beforehand which proved to be way off. Blogging has introduced me to people from all over the world – but I didn’t think I’d ever meet them. Not really. It was a true bonus. As for Chelsea, well I’d certainly want to go again. I’d like to get a feel for how it changes year on year. So perhaps next time, I’ll see you at another er, tweet-up? Dave

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      • That would be great 🙂 Looks like I wasn’t around when the tweet-up was arranged, but that’s the randomness of Twitter for you! I managed to bump into Mark and Gaz and a friend that Helen had come with anyway, so that’s down to the randomness of the Flower Show itself 😉

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  7. I’ve never been to Chelsea, it must be total sensory over load, complete self-indulgence. It is pouring with rain here and I could quite picture having a little open fronted shelter to sit in like the Potters Shed. I think I would have been very taken with the artisan gardens too. Amelia

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  8. What is it about gardeners that they also become collectors? Not content with growing what they can, they rush off into specific enthusiasms. Yes, I do this with asiatic primulas – and it’s fatal (and expensive). Now look at you Dave – hostas and auriculas – both well known traps for obsessives. Avoid!

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    • I’m afraid it is too late Mr K – I’m beyond help. I’ve had auriculas for several years now but lust after some of the new colours I saw. They are calling to me and I can’t help but walk into the light. D

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  9. Wellywoman and I were both gutted that we didn’t bump into you. We must make firm plans next year when and where to meet up if we all get in again. Glad you enjoyed it. Some lovely photos too.

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    • Yes, what a shame. It would have been so good to have met you & WW. I think I’ll try and go again next year, so yes we’ll meet up then. (Means I’ll have to another bath. Sigh). Dave

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    • Thanks Julie. I tried to keep my post short; which was tricky as there was so very much to cover. That did mean ditching about a dozen photos I wanted to use and not going into any critical detail of the gardens. I was sure that would be covered elsewhere. And it is. Dave

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  10. It was good to meet you on Monday and a I enjoyed reading your account of the day. You certainly concentrated more on the plants in the pavilion – I just wafted around, a bit dazed by the perfection. I found Drointon Auriculas – but my photos didn’t do them justice, and I was so annoyed to have missed the other Auricula theatre – the RHS web site and the catalogue only list Drointon, but someone tweeted a photo late last night.
    Looks like you’ll now be busy with all the ideas you’ve gleaned!

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    • Good to meet you too, Celia. Wafting is the way to go, I did quite a lot of that myself. There was an auricula theatre on Drointon’s stand – at the back. I have a photo of it (but then I only used a fraction of the photos I took). It was tricky to take photos in there without a tripod. Dave

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      • Don’t feel sorry for the vikings – without the wool and chain mail they wouldn’t be no vikings at all, I guess they were even born with that features so everyone can recognise them as real vikings – and real vikings fear no heat 😉

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  11. Your great photos have given me some ideas of what to see when I go to Chelsea tomorrow. I started my auricula collection this spring and have been like an over anxious parent, viewing them daily to make sure they are happy! Will definitely seek out the auricula nursery tomorrow and also really want to see the iris displays. Helen

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  12. Oh, thank you, that was a great tour round, I predict lots more hostas in pots at the Priory. Those ferns are amazing too, and I almost like lupins, massed like that with euphorbia. But only almost. The acer, on the other hand… And I really must be brave and plant some Stipa gigantea in my soon-to-be-gravelly front garden, I just always worry about getting irritated with the flowers getting in the way of the view!

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    • I’m rather fond of a lupin, Janet (except pink ones). But hey, I’m not perfect. I have Stipa gigantea at the Priory. I should think the flower heads are so airy that they wouldn’t block much of anything. Your prediction re hostas is prescient. Dave

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  13. It was fab to meet you after all this time. I remember when I met my first blogger friend and how weird it seemed now it seems to be a normal thing to do!
    Oh dear another collection? Of course you need to take into account that you might need to provide the auricula a with some cover, why not a collection of ferns?

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    • Hullo Helen, it’s quite odd ‘speaking’ to you now that I have met you in the flesh (so to speak). I even forgive you the loss of your spangly hat (which is how I always picture you). There was so much I wanted to talk to you about but the time just whizzed by. As to collections, I already have quite a few auriculas and have been thinking about how best to ‘show’ them near the Priory house under cover. (I don’t think a collection of ferns should necessarily mean I can’t have a collection of auriculas too)! Next year, Dave

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  14. Chelsea for me this year will be viewed through other bloggers’ eyes (I was quite disappointed last year and I don’t usually go every year as it is THE best time in my garden and I don’t wnat to miss it. I enyoyed your view very much; as usual you write in such an interesting way that I almost felt that I was there beside you, thank you! Christina

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    • It would have been so nice had you been there, Christina. I’m certainly going to try to go again next year so if you go we must meet. But yes, I think Chelsea should be moved to a less busy gardening time. November perhaps? Or February. (Can’t see them taking that idea on board). Dave

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      • I mind missing the peak of the garden here more because in mid summer the garden is so dry and the plants suffer (even those that are drought tolerant don’t always actually look that great). It is like missing everything I’ve worked for.

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