The Chelsea Flower Show is always inspirational, whether you enjoy gardening or not. It is an explosion of colour and texture, and full of exciting shapes, grand designs and exquisite details.
I am a fan.
It is horribly, horrendously crowded though, I have to say, so I never get to see everything, but I hope you enjoy looking around with me. The large show gardens always look better viewed from within, rather than from the visitor’s perspective at the margins, so I started with the flower and plant displays in the pavilion. I’m absolutely terrible at arranging flowers, so I find the displays here fascinating. This is The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel’s beautiful ‘Afternoon Tea’ entry, which actually won the Best Hotel Floristry Exhibit.
It happens to be the 150th anniversary of of Alice in Wonderland’s publication, which is the perfect excuse for a theme of books, tea parties, magic and a little sprinkling of madness. ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ designed by Simon Lycett had visitors buzzing around it in delight, myself included.
I loved the towers of living chairs, and the combination of books, tea-pots and flowers also reminded me of a certain wedding that happened not so long ago…
Toadstools made from books, and trees hung with pocket watches and tea cups lined the walls, but the rest of the flower displays were no less wonderful. From prehistoric tree ferns to graceful bonsai, a sea of gentle hostas to huge bouquets of flowers, the exhibitors really have put on an incredible show.
I couldn’t forget the gardens though, so here are a few of my favourites:
‘A Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse’ (above)
Grasse in the South of France is known as the perfume capital of the world, and this overgrown, L’Occitane-sponsored garden simultaneously represents the abandonment of its traditional perfume plantations and their recent rejuvenation.
‘The Time In Between’
This garden was designed both to celebrate life and represent the emotions felt at the loss of someone close. Charlie Albone created it as a space to communicate with his late father about his life since his father passed, and it is both peaceful and thought-provoking.
‘The Hidden Beauty of Kranji’
This tropical oasis represents planting common to Kranji in Singapore. The blend of foliage and orchids, a multi-level waterfall and a roof-garden style pavilion aims to convey the importance of modernization blending in with nature, without disturbing the ecosystem.
‘The Retreat’ was sponsored by financial advisors M&G, who also sponsor the whole Chelsea Flower Show, so as you can imagine they’ve pulled out all the stops. Hidden amongst the tumbling roses and peonies, Jo Thompson has created a two-storey, oak framed building inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s writing tower at Sissinghurst, and a natural swimming-pool.
It’s basically my perfect garden. My pictures do not at all do it justice though as it’s best enjoyed from the interior decking, so check out the official photos and video here.
The Botanist have a pop-up bar on Sloane Square, so we dropped in for a cocktail on our way home. Yes everything apart from the drinks is made of plastic, but it’s wonderfully peaceful after the bustle of the real flower show down the road.
Has anybody else visited this year?