I found the Chelsea Flower Show hugely enjoyable and inspiring this year. Stealing the show for me was Crug Farm Plants inside the Great Pavillion. It’s their first time showing at this RHS show and they’ve not only deservedly won a gold medal, but also the coveted President’s award.
Most of their amazing exotic looking plants are completely hardy in the many parts of the UK- just wish I had the space for this stunning large-leaved Schefflera macrophyllum. Plants at Crug Farm (based in Wales) have been nursery grown from seeds collected from all over the world by Sue and Bleddyn Wynn-Jones and this is why their collection of plants is unique (and so enticing!).
Enticing, as many of their unusual plants, such as this Syneilesus, can be planted in tricky spaces such as the dry shade of London back gardens. Can’t wait to visit their nursery and will make sure I go with plenty of space in the back of my van!
I’ve often found the smaller Artisan show gardens the most inspirational at Chelsea. Not only can I relate to their size, but their informal and year-round planting seems more achievable, certainly more sustainable and arguably more desirable then some of the bigger show gardens. Jihae Hwang’s ‘Emptying one’s mind ‘ (on the way to the toilet) garden was thoughtfully designed and planted and filled with quirky and imaginative recycled objects,
such as this upturned pot used as a bird bath,
and recycled furniture to create different planting levels and areas in this small garden.
This make-do-and-mend aesthetic was beautifully echoed in the creatively recycled fence surrounding Kati Crome and Maggie Hughes’s ‘A Postcard from Wales’,
and also in the bed springs of ‘A Child’s Garden in Wales’. Love it!
On my wanderings, I saw this Morris Minor, which was at Chelsea to promote The British Plant Nursery Guide’s ‘Jolly Jaunts’ which are ‘recommended days out, taking a leisurely scenic route to places of interest, combined with a visit to a quality nursery’. Sounds like my ideal trip out of London. You can also visit the site if you want to add your favourite small nursery to the list or find a nursery that stocks the plants you’re looking for.
Other plants (strangely, for me, all white) that stopped me in my tracks were this sumptuous Peony ‘Krinkled White’ on the Kelways Stand,
a delightful Anenome (leveillei) from Harvey’s plants,
and this OTT Clematis ‘Peppermint’ from Raymond Evison.
And finally, my favourite of the large show gardens was Bunny Guinness’ ode to vegetables in ‘a modern take on a traditional kitchen garden’. Potagers, here we come!
P.S. May 30th
Responding to my friend Simon’s comment on the pics in my Chelsea round-up, “It’s all a bit green’, thought I’d add a few more images, although I feel these large show gardens have had heaps of coverage, and for me, tended to be all a bit samey, all sporting a loose naturalistic look (for a some wonderful naturalistic planting, have a look Noel Kingsbury’s garden album ). Not that I don’t like these well put-together planting schemes, but these gardens just didn’t rock my boat as much as other things in this year’s show. So, above is Cleve West’s Gold winning, ‘Best in Show’ garden,
where this gorgeous deep red Sweet William (Dianthus cruentus) brought the whole garden alive.
Orange and purple seemed to dominate this years planting, as on the Monaco stand above designed by Sarah Eberle.
Nigel Dunnett and The Landscape Agency’s ecologically aware Wild Garden (above) had many great recycling ideas, including pools to capture water in and built-in nooks and crannies to attract bees and other insects looking for a good home.
And for Simon, who I know is on the lookout for a tasty Peony, nothing can beat the splendour and riotous colour of P. ‘Cardinal Vaughan’ (again from peony specialist grower Kelways.)