Friday, 24 May 2013

RHS Chelsea - These are a few of my favourite things..

A quick round up including pics I have already tweeted from Chelsea Press Day in case anyone missed them or lives up a mountain in France and doesn't use twitter.


Not only is Chris Beardshaw a 'pocket adonis' he also does beautiful gardens.  I truly adored this for the 'Arthritis Research' and I think it put over the charity's message in a reasonably subtle manner.   The planting was all my favourite, dreamy, colours even including some Cleve West 'Masterpiece' lupins (see my blog post from days of yore).

A comment from twitter friend Sally Nex saying she wasn't keen on the 'corridor' effect got me thinking. I can see exactly what she meant and this next picture reminds me of the Garden Photo day at Wisley, where we were taught that its often a good idea to use the telephoto for long border shots to compress the perspective and lose the long corridor effect. As you can see I didn't use the telephoto!

 For me, the smooth simplicity of the paving corridor made the borders and plants the focus for this garden showing off Chris's horticultural mastery. Bit of a shame the pathway was covered in dirty footprints from the judges et al trudging around.  In a show where, to my mind, it looked like the same gardens from the last few years had been slightly rejigged and regurgitated, the planting was pleasingly different and the fabulous wire sculpture (surely based on the Pocket Adonis himself) enhanced rather than stole the show. Love the echiums and will try them again in my border despite past failure!

Another one I liked, the East Village garden, again offered something different with a brave, slightly retro feel, bold colours and curves.

East Village Garden

I've always like Nigel Dunnett's gardens but let's face it if you didn't spot it as a Nigel Dunnett garden then you haven't been paying attention to Chelsea for the last n years. In fact I'm not going to post a picture of his garden as you can probably just imagine it for yourself!

The Aussie Trailfinders garden (which got Best in Show) was a good example of sculpture outshining the planting.  I was so mesmerised by the structure I didn't really notice the rest.  The girl is probably about to break into Waltzing Matilda - I know a great alternative version to this which I was taught by some Aussie surfers. Unfortunately, I once sang to a group of people at a dinner party thinking it was funny, and shocked everyone into a deathly silence.

Aussie 'Trailfinders' garden

I liked Jo Thomson's  garden, although I didn't love it as everyone did her caravan garden last year. The theme 'Stop the Spread', contrasting the beauty of a garden with the spread of pest and disease, was sobering and the colours a little sombre for my taste.  If there was any mistake it was perhaps to make the dead ash trees look so architecturally attractive!!

Jo' Thompson's garden

Whilst I was full of appreciation for Jo's planting scheme I ache for someone to just let her loose on a Chelsea garden where she has entirely free rein to come up with something that is totally 'her'.  I do for all the designers really. Take Jinny Blom, I think she drew the short straw this year in terms of trying to please both Royals and the Sentabale charity.  Her garden really didn't work for me at all.  Still, always better to be talked about at Chelsea than ignored and it gave Anne Wareham something to get excited about, so not all was bad news.

Jinny Blom's Sentabale Garden

Last of my favourite gardens was Robert Myer's - I liked his last year too. Again Sally Nex disagreed and said it was 'too well-behaved' a marvellous description which is perfectly fitting, I love the well-behavedness of it.  Had to agree that the white chairs weren't quite right though.  Hmm.. looking at the picture I don't like the wall either. The photo doesn't do it justice at all. Someone's comment on Chelsea was "enuff Anthriscus ravenswing already" but I just can't get too much of the stuff.  I love all those umbelifferous lacy plants.


Just in case you're thinking "I'm half-way through this post and there's still no mention of Climate Change Farmer, Author, and barman Mark Diacono" I'd better remedy that now.  Mark was muddling cocktails on the Pennard Plants stand. The muddling was entertaining, the cocktails were good, I now know what stevia tastes like and will be heading to Pennard's to buy some seeds next time we are near there.

I have no doubt this isn't the last I have to say about Mark and his cocktails.

There ain't nothing like a Dame! Helen Mirren  looking fabulous and elegant in a lily of the valley floral dress.

Joanna Lumley looking more Ab Fabulous and a little less elegant but you've to to love her!

Hillier's stand was bright, gorgeous and after a rather flat grey start to the day, very cheering!  I had a glass of their more alcholic fizz and the day started to improve.

A quick visit to my Heucheraholic friends - their stand was looking pretty good and I wanted to snaffle a couple of the shiny happy heucheras.  Jooles said I would have to wait until after judging - they had resigned themselves to getting gold at every show but Chelsea.  Guess what!!!!!!!!

Hurrah for Heucheraholics! And hurrah for RHS Chelsea - it wasn't the best of years for the show but you wouldn't want to miss it!

Oh.. nearly forgot.  The Press and other assorted riff-raff get chucked out at 3.00pm on Press Day so that Her Majesty doesn't have to trip over them when she wanders round.  I just caught this last picture before I left....


VP said...

Chelsea just wouldn't be the same without your take on it :D

Anonymous said...

Great post. Strangely I liked the corridor type garden of CB. I've lived in a few places where that was the shape of the garden. Never looked as good as his garden though. I agree some of the briefs the designers have to work to are very constricting. The charities have one agenda of getting a message across and then the big budget sponsors such as Laurent Perrier want something high end. Not sure what the answer is since they stump up the cash. I found the proportions of Robert Myers garden a little odd. It was such a big space with those very tall pleached trees that the table and chairs ended up looking like doll's furniture. I really love umbels and floaty flowers. I was surprised that it was everywhere though. It was like there had been a job lot and they divvied it up amongst themselves. It was just strange they'd had such similar planting ideas. I've loved reading all the different opinions. It'd be a boring place if we all liked the same things.

Fat Rascal said...

As one of the many readers who lives up a mountain (!) I was immensely cheered by your photos and comments!

There is snow on the tops today.

Maybe the young Mr Bairdshaw (as Jim calls him on Beechgrove) was thinking of people in wheelchairs or walking with sticks when he made his corridor.

I was shocked to learn how long the YMB had lived with arthritis, he has certainly hidden his pain. I am just learning what it's like but I am the "right" age for it.

L'epouvantail said...

As I also live up a mountain in France (well a hill actually) I didn't get to the show - so I loved your comments and on the Telly CB's garden won hands down for me too.

Jo Thompson said...

I LONG to be let loose on something......

georgie newbery said...

think we should start a campaign to 'let Jo Thompson loose!' - surely time between now and next May...

Arabella Sock said...

Hi L'epouvantail - thank you for your comment. French 'hills' are probably mountains by my standards. CB got best in show in the end - I always wonder whether that is as much due to his popularity as a garden programme presenter as the garden itself. He is one of the few who doesn't seem to split opinion like MOnty and Toby do with one half loving and the other hating.

Arabella Sock said...

Georgie and Jo..."The Let Loose" garden sounds good to me. I would love to see it

The Constant Gardener said...

I've only just spotted this and my goodness I do sound grumpy. Good thing you didn't get me talking about poor Jinny Blom's garden. I was very very rude about that, though not about Jinny's bit which I assume was not the giant dog bed/ashtray, or the horrible concrete block toilet at the back, but the lovely sunken hummocky planting at the front.

I did however unequivocally love Jo's garden (count me in on that campaign - Let That Girl Loose!) and the East Village garden - those curves were so photographable - and my very favourite was the Australian garden which, I was telling anyone who would listen on Press Day, was the not-as-safe-as-Bradley-Hole option for the judges for Best in Show. I'm glad they took the not-safe option: Bradley-Hole's was too Chelsea-by-numbers for me (sorry, there I go again, grumpy drawers).

Anyway, I have been feeling smug about how clever I was ever since, if a little Cassandra-like.

Lovely to see you at Chelsea and I'll try to be less hyper-critical next time!

Arabella Sock said...

Ha ha! I didn't think your comments were grumpy at all ConstantG.! I really enjoyed them and they made me think. Wandering around Chelsea on my own is good as it gives me chance to think about what I'm doing but your twitter comments made me realise what fun it is to have someone else's viewpoint and look at a garden afresh with that in mind.

Jo Thompson said...

Well that is all v lovely. Thank you all for vote of confidence!