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.