Friday, 22 May 2009

The Chelsea Flower Show

Yes, it's nearly the end of May and so time for that most wonderful of flower shows, the Chelsea Flower Show.  Ready?  Off we go, this way...

Off the open top bus then, and into the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Very grand, isn't it?

Well, it was a beautiful day, thank you very much, weather gods.  On with the summery dresses. Thursday being the first day that the Show was open to the public, it was really rather busy, much busier than we remembered last year.  Gardening has apparently been gaining in popularity and so it seems, has the Flower Show.

That big white tent you can see is the Floral Pavillion where you can admire all the amazing stands of flowers and fruit and veg.  More of that later, people.  Let's stay outside for now and enjoy the sunshine.  Let's look at the show gardens before it gets, well, even busier!

Here is the garden sponsored by Laurent Perrier, (designed by an Italian, Michela!)  It was good to see that there was a bit more colour in the gardens at Chelsea this year.  There was plenty of purple again.  What is it about purple and white in gardens?  The ruby peonies, dark purple irises and bronze fennel complimented each other so well.

Can't for the life of me remember what this garden is (I'm afraid I'll be saying that about quite a lot of the gardens!  Every year, there seem to be more to remember.)

We liked this garden below, it was good to see a splash of brightness with those orange candelabra primulas.  The BBC show criticised this garden for being too dated but it was interesting to overhear comments from the public that they really liked these sorts of gardens. I think some of us find the trendy ones just too trendy.  What's wrong with flowers? Colourful ones, preferably.

Here's the garden sponsored by the Daily Telegraph which won the best show garden.  Quite trendy still but you could see why it won.  Although the plants were predominantly, you guessed it, purple and white, they were beautiful.  The foxtail lilies were amazing.

This is the Quilted Velvet Garden.  Oh how I could have kicked off my (new) shoes and had a slouch on those cushions.  Not quite sure how you were meant to get to the cushions?  Leap frog across those grassy black boxes, presumably, whilst hopefully not impaling yourself on a spiky tree!

This was one of the smaller gardens.  Liked the colour in this one (and the alliums).  It is, of course, the obligatory PURPLE!

Liking the oh-so-tidy veg garden here below.  Very much disliking those pillars which seem to have what I can only describe as graffiti written on them.  This garden was a project in collaboration with homeless people and prisoners, I think.  Not really my cup of tea.


And here is the infamous garden of James May, all the flowers and trees and whatsits being made from plasticine.  Hmm, it's a bit of fun but I personally thought it was a waste of a show garden space.

There was quite an emphasis on "eco chic" this year and several gardens featured spots for wildlife, such as log piles.  What is that large can doing in there?  That's horrid!  I think this was the "1984 Garden".  

A garden for wildlife...

We did like this one.  This is the Perfume Garden and occupied a very large plot.  It smelled divine as the name might suggest and was based around the story of perfume made for Queen Elizabeth I.  There were lots of roses, lavender and  irises.  We like those; proper plants.

The Chelsea Flower Show is not just about looking at gardens.  It's also about SHOPPING!  Want to go browsing?

Got a spare £20,000 or so for one of these?

Pink and green; my fave.

Time to head into the Floral Pavillion now.  Prepare to be amazed!

Amazing alliums from Holland...

Lovely peonies.  From Somerset, too.

Oooh, delphiniums.  Complete giants!

Dad, this one's for you!

Oh golly, golly, golly gosh!  Don't think my little kitchen garden will be producing anything remotely on this scale!

Ah, my fave stall.  Lupins from Devon with stalks an inch thick.

It's a close-run thing.  Are the lupins really my favourites or the David Austin English Roses?  

Exhausting this, isn't it?  Time to enjoy the sunshine mid-afternoon with a sit down, listening to the brass band and a glass of something cheeky...

Well, I had to support the Laurent Perrier garden, didn't I?

Just time to head round the courtyard gardens.  We always really like these; there's something about their much smaller size which makes them more accessible to us mere gardening novices.

The English/French designed garden...

The winner of the Best Courtyard Garden, the Fen Alchemist's Garden...

Ah well, time to head South of the river for home.  Sorry to be a bit sketchy on the details of the gardens but I'm still feeling a bit the worse for wear today and it is so busy and there's such a lot to see that you often can't read the names of the gardens or take it all in.

To finish, I must tell you that I did manage to track down...

...a HenHouse!!!

Thanks for coming, sister dear!


  1. Lovely post hen, I love the green chair and blanket, wish our shed was a haven of calm not stuffed full to bursting with rubbish! xx

  2. Having watched each programme a few times this week,I can honestly say that I would not give a thankyou for many of those gardens...yes I am old fashioned!
    I love cottage gardens...Foxgloves,Delphiniums,
    Hollyhocks,Larkspur,Poppies etc etc.
    I did like the Fen Alchemist's Garden; the English French designed garden and also the Albertine Roses were gorgeous this year !

    I used to go to Chelsea regularly when I lived in Surrey and I'll never forget walking into the main tent at Chelsea for the very first time...WOW! The Delphiniums knocked me sideways!

    I also really enjoyed seeing Lisa Tarbuck's own garden, at her home.. and listening to her enthuse about all things did Carol Klein.

    I did hear that the plasticene garden would be a must for hay fever sufferers!!;-)

    Glad you enjoyed it all. I would love to go again one day!

  3. Oh WOW...what a lovely post, (and a lovely pic of you too).

    I want the £20,000 house, maybe I'll win the lottery this week!!

    I'm glad you had such a good day, I'd love to go one year.

    Sue xx

  4. Ooh that English French Garden is the one for me, I think. I could sit there and drink homemade lemonade and daydream for hours.
    What a wonderful day you had! And thank you for sharing with us.
    Have a restful weekend.
    Denise x

  5. Oh my, I tried to decide on my favorite pic to talk about here, but there is so much prettiness! Thank you for sharing such a lovely day! Kelly

    unDeniably Domestic

  6. It looks like a wonderful place to go. You fit in to the surroundings so naturally Hen. I think it must be because of your floral frock! The smaller gardens really appeal to me too, especially the french inspired one. Have a lovely weekend.x

  7. Oh Hen thank you so much for sharing your day with us. I love all the pictures they are amazing. I dont like the modern gardens although obviously they all have their place. Each to their own.
    Thank you again xx Beautiful photographs

  8. That was a wonderful tour - thanks so much, for someone who will probably never get there! We do have some friends who 'popped over' from France for the show, but I don't think that will ever be our league! So, that was great - thank you! Hope you recover fully soon.

  9. Just watching the BBC coverage now! Its really great to get your tour though - getting to see lots of extras like the great shops!

  10. Thank you for the lovely tour! I love flowers all of them. I have to say I like the color of your dress.

  11. Lovely pictures. I think the French/English garden is my favourite.
    Glad you and your sister had a good day - looks like the sun was shinning bright too.

  12. Oh Hen! Thank you so much, I'm very happy and honoured to have been named in your last post!!! favourite one is the English/French designed garden, it is so cosy and homey.
    You look very pretty in your CK it so hot in England? Here there's a heat wave, more than 30 degrees and high humidity...gardens are all suffering.
    Thank you again and have a pleasant weekend, and your nice family too


  13. Ooh! You are so lucky! I love it all .. especially the little half timbered house. The gardens look amazing, I've taped the BBC progs to watch but just have to get there somehow next year.

  14. It looks fabulous! I also prefer the rmbly, flower filled gardens to the stark minimalistic ones. I think they'll las longer!

    Just to let you know that I have set up a new blog to replace my lost one at:

    Hope to see you there soon!

  15. Thanks for the tour of the gardens, they are all great in their own ways. Although I didn't like the 'graffiti' walls themselves I could understand what they were there for after seeing the garden featured in the TV prog last night.
    Love your sister's bag!
    Lisa x

  16. Hi Hen,thanks for the tour! I love the traditional gardens and the pretty 'proper' flowers too,the courtyard gardens are my favourite part of the show..I've been trying to persuade my mum to paint her shutters and windows blue on her French house so I think a link to that photo will be on its way over there!
    I bought a whole batch of foxtail lillies at the Malvern show, so it's nice to see they were in the best in show garden.Glad you had a lovely day..hope your feeling a bit better too.x

  17. Hi Hen
    What a great day out!
    I agree with Sal, I prefer the old traditional cottage or English gardens. I am not so keen on the modern ones although some of them have their place in the right setting. The lupins look fantastic so do the delphiniums. I would love to have seen the sweet pea stand, the scent must be heavenly!
    Isabelle x

  18. Thank you so much for letting us have such a great look at Chelsea. Having been there once, I still remember the vast scale of it all. Much more grand than any flower show I had ever seen here in the States.

    I also am not such a fan of the "high concept" gardens. Maybe, they serve the purpose of making our eyes appreciate the more traditional gardens even more. Creating a garden is hard work and can be challenging, but I don't think that enjoying a garden should be a challenge!


  19. Thanks for taking us with you, my fave is the dated garden!!!! :)

  20. Looks like a fab day out! The people who have the lupin stand sell their lupins (and other plants, including some beautiful auriculas and pelargoniums) on ebay at some very reasonable prices! x

  21. I would loved to have gone Hen but sadly not this year - again - so thanks so much for your tour, I enjoyed it more than all the BBC coverage put together! Those courtyard gardens are wonderful.

    And what a pretty pair you and your sister make, super summery dresses. I'll have to make a date to go next year with my sister.

  22. Great post Hen as ever. How do lupins get stems like that - mine seem to have a constant battle with the little critters with houses on their backs! But I'm with you on the David Austin's - can recommend Gwertrude Jekyll and Jude the Obscure!

  23. Thank you Hen, I do love our trips out! I always have a great time without getting sore feet and without spending too much! Aaaah... where are we going next time?

  24. I found your blog today via Anna Maria Horner's blog and what a treat it has been. I have crossed the big pond to go to Chelsea on two occasions, the last in
    05, so it brought back many wonderful memories of
    my time spent there. Your photos were very good and I will visit again from the South USA. I love England and the beautiful countrysides and floweres!!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Ms. Dale

  25. I love the lupins....mine are teeny tiny waiting to grow at the moment..there is something so wonderful about lupins..the shape and colour...bliss...I am afraid we have to watch from the tv...looks like you had a lovely time...H

  26. Wow, the photos are just wonderful of the flower show! I like the way they do the show outdoors. In Philadelphia, PA, the big indoor flower show in the beginning of April draws thousands but they would draw many more if it could be the way Chelsea does it.
    Thanks again for the thrill. nancy

  27. Hi Hen,
    Thanks for sharing so many lovely views of Chelsea - you are so lucky to have visited!
    I have to agree with a lot of your other comments - give me a traditional country style garden any day, over stark modern ones...they seem to work WITH nature, rather than trying to control it.


  28. Oh, yes, and your sister has a lovely friendly face!
    N x

  29. Good Morning,
    That was spectacular. Thank you so much for the lovely pictures and descriptions. It was so appreciated as I'm stuck doing lots of work as my dad and sweety were both in the hospital this weekend. Heck of a thing, you know. So, your post was my lovely getaway. Look forward to you and Lucy's blog. My favs!!!

  30. I was really looking forward to your coverage of the Chelsea flower show, and you didn't disappoint Hen! I'm with you on the likes and dislikes, I loved that fen garden, the small one. And I loved the Laurent Perrier garden, so peaceful. I did watch Chelsea on t.v. but it was great to get your angle on it. And of course your shopping photos were great, didn't see those on t.v!
    Thanks for all the flowery goodness. very generous on photos, which I always love.
    Love vanessa (do you mind if i knit)

  31. Fabulous post! I don't think I'll make it to that flower show, so it was a real treat. Delish!



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