|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
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..
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...
|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
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!!