I am lucky enough to have a friend who works for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), who got two free tickets to the show on Friday. So off to London I went, meeting up with my friend at Waterloo.
After a quick Tube journey to Sloane Square we emerged onto the busy London street and facing the station was a ticket tout offering Flower show tickets!
A little further along a similar gentleman was engaged in a very earnest conversation with two Constables both of whom had their notebooks out!
There were several Rickshaw drivers outside the Tube Station, one of whom advertised his service as being “fully air-conditioned”!
A short walk later through this very elegant area of town and we were at the show. We saw two of the Chelsea Pensioners as we came in through the entrance.
This was my second visit to Chelsea and the problem is always – where do I start?
Where do I start?
There are rows of stalls selling everything garden related; seeds, gloves in every colour and pattern you could imagine, labels, tools from the common to the bespoke Imperial steel Japanese secateurs (don’t even think about asking the price!) hats, and wellies also multi-coloured and patterned and in leather for those with larger wallets than mine. Garden clothes, hoses, sculptures, books, art, and furniture.
This is just the entranceway – we hadn’t even reached the main show! The show gardens are in front of the great pavilion – I’ve included photos of The B&Q garden and the Beauty of Islam Garden for example. It was sometimes difficult to get a clear shot of the gardens because of the sheer volume of people milling about. We never did see Prince Harry’s charity garden.
Outside the pavilion were wonderful greenhouses full of orchids and vegetables, fountains made from glass and amazing bronze sculptures. The little mouse was just sitting on a corner of one of these stands with his companion cat not far away! Towering over a sculpture stand using driftwood was a huge dragon. Nobody will be walking on his grass without permission!
There was every kind of outside cooking aid from little hibachi to virtual outdoor kitchens, (bigger than my indoor one!) including a wood fired pizza oven at a mere £4K!
So we wandered into the Pavilion and as my friend Sonia commented, we spent the next couple of hours going “Wow!” every time we turned a corner.
Tulips, Peonies, Daffodils and Hyacinths had their own stands as did Alliums and Amaryllis. There were at least three stands for Roses and they smelt wonderful! Foliage plants were also represented with Maples (Acers).
There were also stands of Bonsai plants and colourful cacti looking strangely like a great picnic all on little plates.
Individual sponsors had their own displays. The Thai pavilion was a stunning display of pink, violet and white composed almost entirely of orchids. As well as the large Buddha in the centre there were gilt and mirrored dragons, cranes, elephants mandalas and novice monks all surrounded by plants. There were massed tulips on the M&S display, which made it look a little like a giant layer cake.
Just to change things a bit, there was a massive tower of ceramic tulips in cream and blue by Paul Cummins (creator of the Tower Poppies – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red) called “Tulipomania”.
We wandered out from the Pavilion to the Artisan Gardens where there were lovely displays for a “trug”, brewer, sculptor and a strange “ghost in the ruins” garden. There was also an Edo period Japanese Garden which was lovely with its own waterfall and bumpy moss covering everything.
Sonia and I stopped for Pimm’s by the Bandstand and enjoyed some of the performances going on there including a very operatic sounding lady and someone playing the Star Wars theme on a piano!
On the way there we came across what seemed little perfect little Hobbit huts for the garden which turned out to be Finnish BBQ huts complete with coal BBQ, extractor and hexagonal tables and seating inside.
This is the problem with Chelsea – there’s so much going on that a single day isn’t enough to do it justice and since by then my feet were complaining mightily, we headed Tube-wards laden with brochures and lots of wonderful ideas for our gardens!