Friday, 15 June 2012

Memories are made of this - RHS Chelsea 2012

No Chelsea is complete without a Pensioner!

A last blog about Chelsea. This is mainly for my benefit, not yours, because I'm sure you are heartily sick of the whole thing by now and have moved on to the next horticultural delights. However, I find I increasingly use my blog as a personal diary to post my pictures and memories as well as my more 'creative' stuff.

 So Chelsea - I nearly didn't go, my health has been crap this year and I'd already had to miss Malvern which had made me miserable. I couldn't see how I could find the energy to get there, trail around with my heavy cameras, get home and generally cope on my own. But with the wave of his magic wand my exquisitely gorgeous fairy godfather stepped in and arranged a pass for the Bedsock to come along as my carer photographer.  I gave the Bedsock charge of the telephoto lens and instructions on how to act as a Sockerazzi - a role that he took to only too well becoming rather enthusiastic (perhaps overly enthusiastic) disappearing off to get the up close and personal shots instead of keeping an eye out for champagne for me!

In my mind I had decided that if I only had the energy to see one garden it must be Jo Thompson's Caravan Club garden (see previous blog here) and that I would be grateful to do that.  By the time we were on the train I was thinking maybe Cleve's garden as well, and then of course Joe Swift's and Diarmuid's monstrousity and of course I would have to say hello to my Heucheraholic friends Sean and Jooles and...

Buoyed up with champagne and excitement I did manage to do pretty much everything and meet a lot of folk along the way.  Here are a few of my favourite things..

Chris's hut
First up the lovely Chris Beardshaw smartly togged up in his best suit. - all the little Beardibums in my handbag got quite excited when they felt the call of the 'mothership'.  Chris and his interviewers retreated to the hut at the back of the garden and a seasoned hack (mistaking me for a proper press person) asked "Is there anyone important in the hut?"  - "Oh yes" I said knowledgeably "there is Chris Beardshaw".  "Uh" replied the hack with a complete lack of interest as he walked off in the other direction to join the gaggle gawping at Diarmuid's pyramid! Humph! I may not be a proper press person but at least I know who the real designers are.

Diarmuid's pyramid might have been monstrous but he certainly knows how to orchestrate a show with the opposites on the colour spectrum red Chelsea pensioners and green foliage.

Along with everyone else I took loads of photos of them whilst the Bedsock snapped photos of the excited crowd with the calm and collected Trevor McDonut stuck in the middle of the melée.

All the hoo-ha over the pyramid made me miss the DMZ Forbidden  garden - I walked right past it thinking it was some extension of Diarmuid's 'garden' where he had dumped the stuff he hadn't used. Brain really wasn't in gear at all.

A sudden thirst for champagne came upon us so we hotfooted into the Plant Marquee where the lovely David Austin Roses people happily gave us a glass

I love David Austin - they always put on a very elegant and gracious display.  Last year was the fabulously behatted models and this year a string quartet.  The stand people are really friendly too and it goes without saying the roses are gorgeous.

I didn't see all of the marquee as we were concentrating on champagne and celebs - I know, I know, it's disgraceful but to be honest we can see plants and gardens any old time its not every day you get to within two feet of Sir Cliff (looking in great nick!)

Roger Daltrey (not quite such good nick)

and Matthew Wilson (looking like he'd nicked something).

OK - I quite often get within two feet of Matthew Wilson but it is still always an incredible thrill!.

I don't know whether it was me but the Plant Marquee somehow lacked the exuberance of last year - perhaps a mark of the recession - although I didn't see all of it which was a shame. The champagne wasn't flowing quite as freely either!  Hillier's (who always have an interesting plant display with a lot of work put into it) provided a show of two swordsmen from the Olympic team.  Sadly for us, this drew such a crowd that although they had some fizz they had run out of glasses!!

South African National Biodiversity Institute again provided my favourite stand 'Gateways' got gold with mini-landscapes representing their rich botanical diversity against paintings of their picturesque locations.  It reignited my wish to go to South Africa for our next long-haul hols.

If the general feel was a lack of exuberance then Grenada's gold-winning 'Tropical Paradise' made up for it with their bright and cheerful band and a rather good rum-punch!

But beware every Paradise has a snake hanging around...

I haven't a great deal to say about the big show gardens. I liked Jo Thompson's, Joe Swift's and Cleve's which is not to say I didn't like the others but there wasn't anything that really grabbed me or that I hadn't seen before.

Joe Swift's garden - lovely warm tones of wood and irises

 I wished the Trailfinder's garden hadn't felt the need to use simpering bikini girls as their attraction I've seen that before too.

These gorgeous girlies were much more to my liking..

Ann-Marie Powell and Dawn Isaac

Out of the Artisan gardens Kazuyuki Ishihara's 'Satoyama Life' Japanese garden was the stand out and if  was going to be picky one criticism would be that there was just too many gorgeous things going on so it looked a bit 'Gingerbread Cottage done with moss'.

 That having been said you can't have too much moss when it looks like this..

Otherwise although several of them were very attractive and beautifully crafted it was still same old, same old and actually too many gardens going for the nostalgic old and worn vintage look.  I guess that's where Diarmuid excels .. it might not be good but it's definitely original!
Carol Klein

As we were making our final wander a tiny whirling dervish of pure energy suddenly appeared from the plant marquee.  It was Carol Klein come to say hello and how much she enjoyed reading my blog!  I have to say this made my day - comments on the blog are much fewer and far between these days when there are too many blogs to read and it is easier to feedback on twitter - so I really value the fact that Carol took the time to tell me.  Although I blog mostly for my own amusement it is still very gratifying to feel there is an appreciative audience out there!

We moved on to the 'Fresh' gardens a new category.  The minute I looked at the garden below (can't find a name for it?) a memory surfaced of the scrubby landscape behind a Sardinian beach where a glittering-eyed snake was trying to snatch chicks from a nest and a frightened and irate bird was swooping around trying to see it off.

A small drama unfolded as we tried to frighten the snake off with our camera-flash and an Italian woman with kids in tow turned up to see what was going on.  The Italian started shrieking and flapping "bambini pericolo, bambini pericolo!" whilst her husband whacked the tree with a stick causing the babies to fall out of the nest straight into the snakes open maw! (At which point the Italian woman shrugged her shoulders saying 'questa è la vita' and wandered off quite happily.)
Whilst I don't suppose that was the story this garden was supposed to tell it was the one it told to me.

I thought this garden of Tony Smith's was rubbish and didn't get it at all.

This wasn't surprising as it wasn't in fact his garden - it was the Easigrass trade stand which actually I don't think was finished and eventually got an award for Best Trade Stand.  So I missed Tony Smith's garden which is a shame as I invariably like his stuff and it got Best Fresh Garden in Show.

Ooh look there's the smoulderingly gorgeous, mean and moody Mark Diacono wearing one of Georgie the Flower Farmer's beautiful buttonholes. No blog of any merit is ever complete these days without a mention of Climate Change Farmer, Mark Diacono!

So just time left to stand a while and watch the (possibly not so) fragrant Rachella and (surely shortly a Sir) Alan Tichmarsh filming

Another great Chelsea day out - I just hope I recover from it in time for RHS Hampton Court!!


KB said...

Lovely post. I wonder if your fairy godfather is the same as my fairy godfather? He really is a wonderful man. Hope you can make it to Hampton Court and that I see you this time! K x

Helen said...

Just stopping by to be appreciative. Wish I could have been there to help rustle up more bubbly.

VP said...

Yep, I enjoyed your post too. Lovely to see you and hope to again soon!

patientgardener said...

thanks for the post it made up for not going but at the same time confirmed that I really dont enjoy Chelsea. It was nice that Carol came to say hi, a real buzz for you

Ms B said...

You mean it's too late for me to write a Chelsea post.....

Victoria Summerley said...

Carol Klein was amazing, wasn't she? She was obviously a huge fan - so sweet of her to take the time to tell you.
Name of the sparkly snake garden is Glamourlands, btw. xx

janerowena said...

I arrived in the sitting-room one evening halfway through one of the programmes on Chelsea, to see a large steel erection made of scaffolding poles, covered with Chelsea Pensioners, and more attempting to climb up it. I wondered whose mad idea it was, and why on earth they had agreed to do it and concluded that it was a publicity stunt for charity.

I spent the rest of the programme wondering why they hadn't shown Diarmuid Gavin's garden, that I had heard so many strange comments about.

mazeyfaery said...

Big thanks for your blog. Haven't posted comments but regularly read them and always make me giggle. Love Dullas and poor old Monty's baggywag had me shrieking.

Arabella Sock said...

KB I suspect we may share a fairy godfather cos there can't be that many people so wonderful around!

Helen - one day you will have to come over and join in the bubbly-rustling (although we did get a nasty glare from one stand owner who clearly thought the bubbly was too good for us!)

Victoria - CK was a gobsmacking moment for me, so much so that I forgot my manners and didn't say who you and VP were although I invariably assume everyone will know. Thanks for the Glamourlands - I couldn't find it on the RHS Chelsea site I'll have another look now I know what I'm looking for. I really liked it and the way the 'picture' spilled out of the frame.

JRo - I now have an image of a pyramid formed entirely of Chelsea pensioners stood on each others shoulders, I suppose it isn't that much different to the reality. Sadly I didn't get to go down Diarmuid's slide as was too tired to queue. Still you can't have everything.

MazyFaery - thank you. Monty's baggywag always makes me laugh too. It has a complete life of its own and will be making another appearance shortly.

Petra/Oxonian Gardener said...

Now I am no Carol Klein, nor tiny, but if it means something, I too love reading your blog...! I almost missed out the DMZ garden too, thinking it was past of Diairmuids gaff. Full credit to the elegant Mr JAS, who pointed me in the right direction and shared a few of his words of wisdom. Hope you're feeling better!