For me ‘Best in Show’ this year was the ‘After the fire’ garden in the Fresh Gardens category. There have been discussions, kicked off by Christopher Bradly-Hole, about the fairness of having such a term, as how can you compare gardens whose briefs are so different? ‘Best in Show’ for me is simply the garden that excites me most and moves me and whose inspirational ideas and design will stay in my head for years to come.
I just loved the sculptural quality of this garden,
where the burnt gnarly sticks and the floppy Acacia dealbata trees and seedlings gave a loose and airy feel to the whole design,
while it was grounded by mounds of myrtle, tree heathers (Erica arborea), lavenders, thyme and Asphodelus fistolosus (the perennial above with lovely delicate white flowers-seeds available from Chiltern Seeds). Designer James Basson of Scape Design lives and works in the South of France and his garden is based on how areas regenerate themselves after forest fires. Seeds were collected in the S. of France from some of the grasses and grown on for the show by Kelways, who also sourced and grew the rest of the plants for this garden. Dedication that really paid off.
I never really got the chance to have a good look at Chris Beardshaw’s garden, as every time I wandered by, the area was roped off for filming. But snatched glimpses did reveal exuberant planting and joyful use of colour and textures.
Adam Frost’s garden for Homebase didn’t have the same high-octane appeal, but I loved seeing fruit and veg amongst the perennials. You could even pick enough rhubarb for a crumble without destroying the design!
These pleached Field Maples (Acer campestre) were truly arresting on the Brewin Dolphin garden, where the Robert Myers concentrated on using native plants.
And I loved these upright oaks (Quercus fastigiata ‘Koster’) in the Ulf Nordfjell garden too. Perfect for a small London Garden in need of a bit of height and drama!
I always come away from Chelsea, and Hampton Court for that matter, feeling slightly overwhelmed and sure that I’ve missed a chunk of the show. This year I didn’t get to explore the floral marquee as much as I’d have liked to, but still, plenty of plants really caught my eye. This blousey double rose, Princess Anne from David Austin, is a gorgeous repeat flowerer,
and the combo of Gertrude Jekyll and Tuscany Superb was also rather sumptuous. I was discussing my increasing interest in roses with another gardener after the show, and he said it was because I was getting older-and I think he may be right! Not quite sure why this is though-am I yearning to recreate some faux bucolic bliss or am I need of more colour and scent as the years fly by or is it just that my tastes are becoming more traditional (and conservative) ?
And my final pic of the post is of this lovely shade loving Maianthemum aff. flexuosum from Crug Farm plants. Know the perfect spot for this plant already.
If you’re having Chelsea withdrawal symptoms, don’t panic! There’s plenty more to see from The Chelsea Fringe which continues until June 9th. Here’s a list of great events happening this week all over London. And come and join us this Sunday 2nd June for tea and cake (and loads more) in Finsbury Park.