RHS Chelsea 2014 – Talking Points

RNIB Minds Eye Garden

Fresh garden – RNIB Minds Eye Garden

We visited Chelsea last wednesday, having dithered over the ticket order we were only able to purchase an afternoon ticket. Its worth buying the kings ransom all day ticket though as there is so much to see and negotiating crowds takes time.

The Fresh gardens, were better presented this year, still located on the far side but in their own area, rather than stuffed in amongst trade stands. The 10 very individual Fresh gardens were the gems of the show. RHS blurb…”we are challenging designers to be brave and step outside the perceived Chelsea garden”.

I wear glasses and have done since a child, my sight is my most important sense, each year the prescription is strengthened and now varifocals. The RNIB Minds Eye Garden was a sensory experience, designed to stimulate ones imagination or minds eye, the point being that non sighted or partially sighted could enjoy this garden too. Centred around a glass box with water running down the sides, standing inside the box, the view for a fully sighted person was blurred. The fabulous planting became a muddle. Enclosed in the stands goodie bag a glasses shaped cloudy dark spotted piece of plastic, looking through gave an idea of what it would be like to have diabetes affected sight.

RNIB Minds Eye  Iris 'Kent Pride'

RNIB Minds Eye
Iris ‘Kent Pride’ (My favourite plant of the show)

The Garden Museum sponsored the ‘Cave Pavilion’

'Cave Pavilion' in partnership with the Garden Museum

‘Cave Pavilion’ in partnership with the Garden Museum

Look closely and the planting is contained within a large industrial container with only one viewing point and bench to sit and look. The plants were all collected by modern day plant hunters Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones of Crug Farm Plants. The plants are all wild origin and used in their natural uncultivated form. The blurb says this raises ideas of exploration, discovery and imagination and yes it filled the brief – Brilliant.

Oak Processionary Moth Garden

Oak Processionary Moth Garden

A garden with an important biosecurity message, the oak trees at one end of the garden were wrapped in fabric to symbolise the the impact of this devastating moth. Its native to mainland Europe and was imported accidentally into the UK in 2006, caterpillars strip the tree bare leaving the Oak vulnerable to other pests and diseases and less able to withstand extreme weather. Why are we still importing Oak trees, any trees for that matter.

Reachout garden

Reachout garden

The Reachout garden was inspired by young people in Lancashire and depicts a girl leaning against a slate wall and the journey faced by young people on the way to adulthood. I really, really like these symbolic gardens with thought and purpose.

Gaura 'Freefolk Rosy' Shortlisted for RHS Plant of the Year from Hardys

Gaura ‘Freefolk Rosy’
Shortlisted in the top 20 for RHS Plant of the Year from Hardys

The great Pavillion hosts a brilliant selection of nurseries from the UK and across the world, amongst the displays the RHS Plant of the Year 2014 top 20. The Gaura did not win but would of been my choice.

Artisan gardens, 7 this year, the RHS blurb…”Designers are challenged to use an artisan approach”

Tour de Yorkshire garden

Tour de Yorkshire garden

My husband a very keen cyclist, me less good, in fact rubbish at speedy cycling, but we both loved the Tour de Yorkshire garden. The tour de France is kicking off in Yorkshire this year, hence the link. The beautiful York stone wall incorporated recycled bike wheels.

The Best in Show Artisan garden Togenkyo (A Paradise on Earth) was beyond exceptional in its execution, the attention to detail staggeringly good. My only comment, someone had booked a rockabilly band to play in the adjoining food court area, the volume control knob was missing and a sound so out of context to this stunning garden ensued. I am very sure the designer Kazuyuki Ishihara did not like the music either.

Togenkyo (A Paradise on earth) Best in Show Artisan garden

Togenkyo (A Paradise on earth) Best in Show Artisan garden

My favourite garden – the Potters garden, depicting a pottery, where the workers went off to the first world war and thankfully all survived, coming back to resume their work in the Pottery. This was one of three gardens at Chelsea this year reflecting war.

The Potters Garden

The Potters Garden

Aquilegia 'Green Apples' on the Artisan category Norse Garden

Aquilegia ‘Green Apples’ on the Artisan category Norse Garden

I understand Mr Titchmarsh now retired from presenting Chelsea came into a bit of flak for the safeness of his garden. It was jolly, I liked it. Bringing attention to the RHS Britain in Bloom initiative and isn’t that about being jolly, being inspired and bringing a bit of cheer to some of our dingier landscapes.

Alan Titchmarsh Britain in Bloom garden

Celebrating 50 years in horticulture for Alan Titchmarsh and Kate Gould’s Britain in Bloom garden

The Show gardens, 15 this year, including one, the Cape Cod garden, which I could not find at all. A free map would be handy thrown in with the very pricey ticket.

Asphodeline lutea, Centurea ‘Black Ball’,  Cerinthe purpurescens, Cleve West Contemporary Paradise Garden

Asphodeline lutea, Centurea ‘Black Ball’, Cerinthe purpurescens, Cleve West Contemporary Paradise Garden

Laurent Perrier Garden - best in show

Laurent Perrier Garden – best in show

Can anyone identify this for me, on the very beautiful Laurent Perrier Garden, but missing from the plant list.

P.S. This afternoon (28.5.14) Neil from Avon Bulbs contacted me and identified this really beautiful plant for me, he could because they grew these for the Laurent Perrier garden, its Gladiolus tristis and available to order. I had not appreciated that its also wonderfully scented in the evenings.

Phlox divaricata, Orlaya Grandiflora, Lupinus Cashmere Cream, Deschampsia flexuosa Laurent Perrier Gold and Best in show

Phlox divaricata, Orlaya Grandiflora, Lupinus Cashmere Cream, Deschampsia flexuosa
Laurent Perrier Gold and Best in show

I loved the planting on the laurent Perrier garden, I have tried to grow Lupins and the wonderfully scented Phlox divaricata, both need more shelter than I can offer, I am growing the hardy annual Orlaya grandiflora for the first time this year, with seed I bought at Chelsea last year from Hardys. I have high hopes.

Orlaya grandiflora

Orlaya grandiflora

Our afternoon ticket only gave us 4.5 hours, not enough time to visit the greatest flower show on earth. And now no more time to blog, I have potting up to do. One last thought, I miss Diarmuid Gavin and his crazy outrageous but above all memorable gardens, there were many large very tasteful show gardens this year that in looking through 500 odd photos I can’t assign to any particular one with ease.

23 thoughts on “RHS Chelsea 2014 – Talking Points

  1. I think the flower you showed is one I featured last Friday. Gladiolus nana ‘The Bride’. always difficult to be sure from a photo, but that’s what it looks like to me.

    • Thanks Susie, the internet is so slow here today, that I can cook whole meals in the time it takes to download one photo, but the heavy rain has stopped most of my work today, so I have the time. I love visiting Chelsea, its a wonderful show.

  2. Wow! Seems like such a great experience! I love how you included some specific plants along with shots of display gardens and other features. I don’t know if we have all of those plants over here in U.S. There are a couple I will check into. My favorite garden shot is the ‘Potters Garden.’ It is a beautiful shot…very appealing. Would love to go to this show some day…

    • Hi Andrea, its a huge show and there were many fabulous gardens and plants I photographed but did not add in my blog, just the little bit that engaged us the most. The Potters garden was very pretty, you could really enjoying that garden on a daily basis.

  3. A great post Julie which I only just found. My WordPress reader is doing its usual trick of dropping someone I follow. The only cure is to refollow you.
    I didn’ t get to Chelsea this year so it is great to read about it. I love that dainty little Gladiolus The Bride and Orlaya grandiflora is fabulous a bit like Ammi majus only bigger. I have some Orlaya which is self sow from last year and it has grown even taller than last year.

    • Its my first time of growing Orlaya, they are still babies as I am late, so hoping to achieve some flowers this year, if they self sow for me too, I shall be delighted. My frustration is with blogger, I can read the text but not open the pictures, unless on my small screened phone. Technology!

    • I have just looked up the differences between Echium wildpretti and Echium pininana ‘Snow Tower’ both of which the RHS call Tower of Jewels. I think the one in the show garden is the latter. We saw one growing in the wild, smothered in bees on a coast path in Somerset, (Southern England) last year, they are quite staggering plants.

  4. Very different to my own review but it’s always nice to hear what others think. The Potters Garden was one of my favourites too. You’re right about the map – that would be very helpful indeed.

    • I tried to pick up bits that others had not covered, especially as I was so late in posting. The RHS could produce a mini map for a £1 donation, I am sure it would go down well.

    • Hello Annette, I have just tried to comment on your post and I am being sent in a loop, but essentailly I agree with everything you said. 🙂

  5. What an interesting post, Julie. Thanks for sharing this with us. I like the pictures and the anecdotes – particularly the Potters’ Shed and Mr. Titchmarsh’s garden. Now: gladiolus tristis : sounds like Latin for “sad glad”? Or maybe that’s tristes. Anyway – what a pretty flower!
    I really like your post. I’ve long wanted to go to the Chelsea flower show, and until that happens, this is the next best thing!

    • I have just looked that up in the RHS ‘Latin for Gardeners’ and the definition of tristis is “Dull; sad, as in Gladiolus tristis”. I would not have described it as dull, sad or even melancholy. I wonder who named this very pretty Gladiolus.

    • Thanks, with a bit more research my own garden will be too exposed for that beautiful plant, so I think I shall try Gladiolus ‘the bride’ a bit tougher, but not as pretty.

    • Marian, its been very hot here this year, no real rain for what seems like months and things are going over quickly, parched borders everywhere. Hopefully you will get to travel next year and we will have a return to rainy England!

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