Friday, 28 May 2010

Flower Power

Yes it's that glorious week again, the week of the Chelsea Flower Show. Here at the HenHouse, we've swapped guests; my parents have gone, my sister is in residence and so under fairly dull skies (sadly), we hopped on the train to Victoria where I was disproportionately excited to find a Routemaster would be taking us to the grounds of the flower show.

And what magnificent grounds they are, the Royal Hospital, Chelsea...

Many of these splendidly tuned out Chelsea Pensioners were there to collect money for charity, have a chat and happily pose for photos.

Straight on to the big show gardens then. I must say, it was absolutely packed at the flower show this year, many sharp elbows seemed to be out in order to get to the front to see the gardens. I confess I grew a little tired of it after a while!

This was the first large show garden, by M&G Investments (they didn't seem to have come up with a nice name for it), and it had some very beautiful planting, lots of lovely roses. It was definitely one of the prettier and more traditional gardens. Carol Klein was filming in here so it was very difficult to get near the front to have a look and take photos. This garden won a gold medal.

This garden was a fairly show-stopping stunner, based on a Victorian aviary garden (that at Waddesdon manor). I thought the planting took too much of a backseat but the stone path was really very good indeed. This won a silver medal.

This is the L'Occitane garden and was based on all the plants they use in their toiletries. Hmm, I could just imagine myself sipping a glass of something chilled in Provence! This won a silver-gilt.

This one is the Daily Telegraph garden designed by the well-known Andy Sturgeon and winner of best show garden. It's not really to my taste but I can see the skill which has gone into it.

Another very eye-catching garden, this one, by Cancer Research (paid for entirely by a private sponsor), on the theme of "enlighten". Whilst I wouldn't have my garden like this with that huge metal structure, there were elements of it that were very pleasing. It had a very serene feeling with all those slatey greys, blues and whites. The planting was actually very pretty close-up, though I appreciate it's hard to see it from this photo. This also won gold.

Further on, this very large site was home to a pretty whacky garden by the Eden Project. It was created with help from ex-offenders and homeless people. There were some lovely flowers but overall, it was a little zany!

Having seen most of the large gardens, we decided to wander round to the courtyard gardens which due to their tucked away location, are always busy and a fight to see. Many people were already picnicking. Hard to imagine this very pastorale scene is in the middle of busy London!

There were many stalls selling all sorts of wares along the edge of the pathways. Being rather fond of those little Fiat cars, I thought this was fun! (They were oversized beanbags.)

Oooh, most excellent!!!!

So down in the courtyard gardens, we were amused by the rhubarb and custard garden!

Less so by the bizarre "Lights and Colours of the Alps". I never imagined Heidi frolicking somewhere like this!

Overall, I was really disappointed by the courtyard gardens this year. Usually, they are not quite so modern as the large show gardens so they offer something for the more traditional gardener like myself. They were all very "samey", not a lot of colour or much pretty planting (in my humble opinion).

Back now to some of the smaller show gardens. I thought this one was rather pretty but then I am quite biased towards blue planting schemes. It is the "Bee Friendly" garden, I do rather like bees, and the planting is said to encourage bees into the garden.

More blue!

Now you're talking, lupins alert. Except I think this pretty planting was on one of the stalls outside selling oak framed garden structures!

Ah yes, pretty planting and zingy colours in this little show garden, "the Waterless Water Garden" (eh?) It is apparently designed to be a rooftop garden on a modern building based on a Japanese Zen garden. Hmm, no idea what that is all about!

Didn't particularly like this garden, the "Easigrass Garden" (apparently the garden of a hard working plantaholic bachelor!) but did love the purple-y tulips planted amidst that bronze fennel.

This garden was created by the Dyslexia Research Trust, hence the over-sized books and the capital letters scattered up the path. I'm afraid I find the gardens with "deep, hidden meanings" a bit hard work. I just want to admire the pretty plants!

This is the "Ace of Diamonds" garden, can you see that the table is in the shape of a diamond ring and there are lots of "jewels" scattered at the front. Apparently, on Monday (the posh day), they had real jewels there!

This is the "Bradstone Biodiversity Garden", designed to encourage all sorts of life forms into the garden. We did indeed see many bees guzzling away! It was designed by a former student of Chris Beardshaw.

Now, it's time for shopping. Something you may not realise if you haven't been to Chelsea is that there are as many stalls selling things as there are gardens to look at. From the expected garden houses and equipment, to clothing, art and everything in between! I was rather taken by these pink painted garden supports.

Adele meanwhile, who has a collection currently numbering 16 honey pots, was rather taken by these!

Vintagey goods were available on this stall.

Pretty, pretty...

Ah, now I was most chuffed to find this stall which belonged to a designer named Jacqueline Mulvaney with whom we had a lovely chat. Some of you may know her, indeed I recognised some of the fabrics she had used and was informed they were indeed from none other than Donna!

Such a lovely cushion on this chair...

Jacqueline has just had a book published which I was lucky enough to have a look though. I now have a copy on order, so when it comes, we'll have a closer look.

Finally (are you flagging? I was/am!) Into the Great Pavilion.

The delphiniums are always stupefying!

Stunning peonies from Kelways in Langport.

David Austin Roses.

This rose was such an unusual (and beautiful) colour.

A rose amongst the thorns!

The new David Austin rose for this year, Maid Marion, has the most gorgeous, strong scent.

My favourite exhibit in the pavilion had to be these amazing hyacinths from Holland (new this year).


Cute little violas...

Divine auriculas. (One for you, Vanessa.)

Peter Beales' Roses' display is always stunning and the scent in the air is beautiful.

And finally, it had to be...

Phew! What a day, wonderful but oh so tiring! Now where did I put that trowel...


  1. Thanks for the tour - I feel as though I've been to Chelsea myself now.xx

  2. What a lovely guided tour you have provided. I'm unlikely to ever visit the Chelsea Flower Show, being on the other side of the world, so this was a special treat. Thanks for sharing.

  3. what a fabulous day out.....i love that peacock path and oh to be in that provence garden....

  4. Thank you so much for that wonderful look into The Chelsea Garden Show for those of us not able to go. It looked like a divine but exhausting day!


  5. oh so beautiful. You are so lucky Hen, we got to see a snippet of it on Better Homes and Gardens TV show tonight, thats it!! thanks for sharing

  6. Thanks for the virtual tour of Chelsea - its lovely to visit but a very long day, I went years ago.
    Julie xxxxx

  7. All I can say is WOW! my feet are aching and I need a coffee and cake after a full tour like that!! Hope you had a fab time

  8. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos.Great to see some bits the T.V. cameras miss!
    I must agree about the lupins.Stunning !
    I've planted some for the first time this year ,can't wait to see how they do.
    Jacquie x

  9. Oooh you lucky devil.I only mentioned the stunning Delphiniums on my blog yesterday!!
    We used to whizz up after school when I was teaching in Surrey and to be honest that was a lovely time of day to visit.
    I bet you didn't go home empty handed!!

  10. How many days did you say you were there? With so much to see one day is not enough! Thank you for taking us with you. Kim :)

  11. I think you covered everything! Your feet must have really been aching... hmmm did the L'Occitane garden offer any of their fantastic foot cream?!

    Have a great weekend,

    Victoria xx

  12. Gorgeous pictures once again. I love the giant bean bags. I could use one to sit on my lawn and read today. :)

  13. Thanks for the great personal tour of Chelsea! Hope to go again next year and this was even better than the BBC coverage! G

  14. Thankyou so much for that lovely tour of the CFS.I was able to enjoy it without the crowds...perfect! I prefer a cottage garden myself,some of those were a bit too modern for my liking.All very inspiring though.

    Bellaboo :0)

  15. Such a fabulous post, wonderful photos and descriptive narrative. I feel as though I have been to Chelsea myself. Thank You for the guided tour!!

  16. Isabelle (from France)28 May 2010 at 18:26

    Thank you for taking the time to share your visit with us! It was great to look at your photos and read your comments, especially for me who lives so far away.

  17. glad you had a good day I bet you were shattered!

  18. What a lovely day out, it looks amazing! I'm in awe of those delphiniums (or del skinny bums as I like to call them) ...I've yet to get any to grow, the slugs always get there first! Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures; :) x

  19. Hi!
    Whatta great flower show!!! I`m so excited to visit London end of next month and I hope to find some free time (means without husband and son) for shopping!
    Happy weekend,

  20. Oh wow Hen, thank you for taking us round The Chelsea Flower Show. I have never been and looking at this I am wondering why?!! How clever of you to spot my fabrics in Jacqueline's work. I'm so glad you got to meet her, she's lovely isn't she? The book is great.

  21. Thank you for the tour Helen. I found myself almost "sniffing" at your photo of the hyacinths.
    Haven't been to Chelsea for a few years. I love the floral pavilion but find a lot of the gardens a bit boring for my taste. I prefer the profusion of a cottage garden.

  22. What a wonderful day you had, I have been watching the flower show every day on the bbc. Think I may have to investigate tickets for next year for me & Gav.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Luv Sophie xxx

  23. Your tour was so much better than the BBC coverage! What a lovely post - I really enjoyed it!
    Love Kathy xxx

  24. thanks for such a lovely tour, I was tired by the time I'd got to the end and then gone back to re-visit some places for a second look, so I'm sure you must have been exhasted!
    Have a lovely weekend- steady rain here

  25. Lovely photos, just wishing this was smellyblogging, if you know what i mean! Thank you for sharing x

  26. What a great day Hen. Have you ever visited Kelways at Langport? It's our nearest garden centre. Perfect for a trip when you're down in Somerset - with the paeony fields open over the next few weeks. I hope to go for a wander with mum with a bit of luck.

    Sue x

  27. Thank you so very much for this great tour of Chelsea 2010. Having been lucky enough to have been there and done that myself (just the once, though) I do know what you mean about exhaustion setting in.

    Though it's sort of stimulating to have all those "concept" gardens, I admit that the more traditional ones were those that I loved.

    Your photos are terrific.

    Wish I could have been there. Perhaps another year....

  28. Hooray for those lupins Hen, they are THE BEST!

    I missed it this year for the first time in years so I was so sos thrilled to find your report, thank you.

    I know what you mean about those pointy elbows too!

    Sarah x

  29. Thanks for the lovely photo's and tour.. the L'Occitane garden looks lovely!

  30. Thank you so much on 2 counts -- 1 I live so far away from Chelsea yet your photos brought such loveliness so very close and 2 Thank you so much for the tip of the extra hains on the foundation row of a blanket. I have been caught out soooo many times. Excellent and I will always do it from now on
    Kindest Regards Linda

  31. It was so nice to visit Chelsea with you - I love all the plants you've shown us. And those mixed colours of hyacinth are fab, must have a go at that next year.

  32. Fun to see the beautiful gardens. I'm not as fond of the "modern" ones as the more traditional, but still beautiful flowers.

  33. Ooooh lovely pictures!!
    You must have been so tired after all that!!!
    Isn't the maid marian rose gorgeous!! I love the David Austin roses! Just wish I had a bigger garden!!!

  34. OOOOOOH! How absolutely beautiful! It is my dream to one day get to the Chelsea Flower Show. I love the photo of the delphiniums! Gorgeous!

  35. thank you very much for this "journey" in the gardens

  36. Thanks for sharing! I so enjoy reading your blog. I have a friend and some of her family coming to England, I think in August. Do you have any suggestions on some out of the way places for them to go and also where to eat that the locals eat at? I'm going to have her start reading your blog. She doesn't do crafts though I did tell her she should go to Cath Kidson. Any ideas? Thanks!!

  37. I saw the Chelsea Flower Show on t.v. all the way here in Northumberland, and each year I watch it, I umm and aahhh about actually going the next year. I think it's the best of the shows, I went once about ten years ago. Thank you for the gorg Auricula pic, so lovely Hen! And that chair, to die for don't you think! Love Vanessa xxx


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