It seems that for once, our green and often rainy island has been blessed with some unexpected sunshine, more specifically a mid-May heatwave which has beamed hot sun down on the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for all important press and judging day. I have to say I can hardly imagine how it could get busier, although I’m told it does, today’s first day where both press and celebrities are invited to get first views of the gardens, and a chance to catch up with designers and contractors, was busy and bustling.
The contractors and designers were no doubt very happy to be finishing their gardens this weekend in glorious sunshine, rather than bailing out the water with buckets – as in previous years. The sun brought with it a laid back and festive atmosphere, felt all across the show. Designers were interviewed in their gardens and celebrated completion with glasses of champagne.
Charlotte Rowe’s garden No Man’s Land caused quite a stir with its very own warhorse. The life size puppet operated from the inside by three puppeteers moved and acted uncannily like a real animal. Charlotte’s garden was one of a handful marking the centenary of WWI this year at the show. Her garden also included a dreamy poppy rich mound, and elements which mimicked the scars left on the fields and landscape of the first world war.
The Cloudy Bay Sensory Garden and The Night Sky Garden both stood out for their gorgeous planting, one taking inspiration from the rich reds and purples of wine, the other from the milky way with swathes of mixed milky white flowers.
It may have been the heat adding to their appeal, or the sunshine sparkling on the water, but all the water features in this year’s gardens looked gorgeous. In particular Alan Titchmarsh’s, Kazuyuki Ishihara’s Artisan garden aptly named A Paradise on Earth, and the Positively Stoke-on-Trent garden; not to mention the huge rectangular pool which was the centre point of Paul Hervey-Brookes’ BrandAlley Renaissance Garden.
The Fresh and Artisan gardens as always expressed a creative and conceptual side to garden design, and included among other things a garden inspired by designer fabric, trees wrapped with shrouds to protect them from Oak Processionary Moths, half a Viking boat buried in the ground, and a garden which offered pots of herby fennel-heavy ice cream to add to the sensory experience of the garden.
It’s easy to forget at Chelsea that only a few short weeks ago these gardens were nothing more than patches of grass. The contractors and designers do an extraordinary amount of work to create gardens of perfection and beauty that look like long established spaces.
With the judging coming to a close, and awards will be announced first thing tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Good luck to all the designers, contractors, and plant suppliers, and everyone else involved.
Look out for the June issue of Pro Landscaper magazine for photographs of the show.