Friday, 27 May 2016

Chelsea Flower Show 2016 Highlights

There was a change in the air at this year's Chelsea Flower Show.
Normally I am trying to sort out the pictures and 
I feel I have to do a separate post for all the different garden categories but this year I feel that one post would suffice.

My friend and I noticed the Chelsea in Bloom storefronts weren't as big or pronounced. Sloane Street hadn't been so subdued in years.

Every time I go to Chelsea, I always toy with the idea of moving to the country to design my imaginary garden.

But that lasts a few hours until I get home and I have to prep myself to water my pots and window boxes.
Cleve West is a huge name in garden design. 
I have consistently liked all his gardens and this one was no exception. 
It won gold medal and only just missed out on Best in Show.
It seemed so simple and achievable which is a universal common trait of people who are amazing and talented in their careers.

This garden below was a crowd favourite 
I think because we all love a trimmed hedge and preached trees but it only got a silver gilt. 
Even the BBC commentators were confused.

I really didn't like the garden below.
It looked like one of those pre-election incumbent government spending in a park on a marginal seat.

The Provençal garden sponsored by L'Occitane won a gold despite or maybe due to a bold move to put a dry, twiggy, and pedestrian almond tree as a centrepiece. 

There was a highlight to using rooftops as space for pots and growing food.

This was the Harrods garden by the popular contributor at Chelsea who was also on many BBC garden shows was Diairmuid Gavin.  People love a familiar face so the crowds love him.  
He designed the garden below which was wired so the trees and the flower beds move.  
I have the video on my Instagram feed if you want to have a look.
It's a marmite garden - some loved it and some were appalled.

I don't know what was going on at Chelsea but there was a few empty stalls in the Artisan garden area.There must have been drop outs because I can't imagine people not having had applied to be there.
Does anyone know?
This dual purpose garage demonstrated maximising space and showing vertical garden ideas.

This garden was based on algorithms and mathematical formulas.
Here's the regal arch that the Queen entered through.
This was a floral tribute to the Queen's 90th birthday.
The other side looked like this and was nice but much less photographed.

Adrian Gray was amazing and I had seen him on many shows.
He is a stone balancer.
You must go on his website and see his work.

Below was one of my favourite gardens.
I think not just of this year's show but from all the ones 
I have been to.
Yes I do realise that it looks like a huge hunk of stone.

They had little peep holes to look into the cube from different angles.
It's not the same of course but I did my best to capture it for you.

While I was peeping through this tardis of a garden the surveillance helicopter was zooming overhead.  
I can't imagine what it was like during the bombings because this was absolutely alarming.
Back to the garden, the peephole was only about two inches round.
There were 6 peepholes and each vantage point was different.
I asked where this was going and the lady at the garden said there were 10 formal expressions of interest to purchase it but the sponsor wanted to donate it to a public park.

I hope it goes to a public space so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of anthropomorphism in gardens.
I want to be in nature and it's my escape from homo sapiens.
I say stick a dog or elephant statue instead unless it's a gorgeous Roman god half naked under the guise of antiquity.

Inside the pavilion, the peonies bloomed like the best florist stand in England.
I love the buttercup peonies but 
I can't find them anywhere to buy in town.

I really didn't like garden below.
It shows that I really don't know anything about gardens because the Chelsea Barracks below won a gold medal.
It had some nice planting as the garden critiques say 
but it just seem to try too hard to be eclectic 
and the human form statues did not help.
Foxgloves are great interspersed but in a row lose their effect.
The begonias looked like dyed cabbages.

Peter Beale Roses always has a moody backdrop of a architectural backdrop.

I love Bloom Bulbs and this year they won a gold award and deservedly.

They had a bonsai stand which I appreciate from afar but would not want in my own home.

This Wedding Chapel was supposed to be a centerpiece but it didn't draw the crowds - there were more people looking at ancient breeds of potatoes.

On the other hand, what made a huge impact was the knitted red poppies in front of the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

It was really quite moving. 
I think all the good intentions of all the people who knitted the individual poppies came across.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and have a great weekend! x


  1. Really enjoyed the tour, thanks Naomi. Love the peephole garden and the crowd favourite with the clipped hedges. The knitted poppies were amazing, that field of red! XOX

    1. THe sunset only amplified the red and everyone was mesmerised! xx

  2. Love your observations as always. I think all the different human form sculptures really detract from the gardens and planting to be honest - shows how a good sculpture will make or break things (from my perspective). I have read a few people saying it's been a little off this year. But really, it keeps getting bigger, and more over the top (spinning trees... really?!) and less a garden show and more a show. So maybe it needs a few quiet years to regroup? x

    1. Yes it is a day out in the country in the city. The crowds were just as heaving as ever and they had re-arranged the stalls so the show gardens weren't all on the main avenue but the paying stall holders got some choice areas. I just couldn't get over the vacant lots in the artisan garden row. It's such a waste and if I knew I could have put my rose bushes there hehe! They need bigger grounds to be frank because the crowds this year for some reason seem more and there were queues everywhere even at every ice cream stand xx

  3. You had me at roses and peonies. My fave flowers. Wonder why it was not so glam this year? Brexit fears? Post GFC ang Pammiest/anxiety? World worry!?
    Loved it in 2013 when we were there on the Garden Tour. Specially the Oz garden. Felt so proud to be an Ozzie that day. Pammie xx

    1. Not sure what happened there in line 2 - end of line 1. Maybe the angst gremlins are striking. Meant to say "Post GFC angst/anxiety." Pxx

    2. Wasn't 2013 when the Australian garden won best in show? They were so happy and the whole team was grinning I remember! You know what, I must see when the cut off for applications is BC this brexit angst is only since about Feb but I do believe in a collective consciousness so that could be a big part. Just so odd how the artisan garden was a fifth empty! Hope you're having a great time xx

    3. Yes - it was. I loved it. Just happened to be there at a moment when they were taking some VIP Aussies up into the garden itself and begged to be included. You may remember it was a hillside garden. Shamelessness paid off - as I went up with them. Fab. It was freezingly cold weather though.

      Yes, I wonder about collective consciousness. And its effects.

      Luckily here the collective consciousness seems to be about enjoying the weather and the beaches. But the petrol shortages are increasingly a problem and people are also worried about who will go off on strike next. Trains, air traffic controllers, taxi drivers? We got it all at once in Paris last year. Had plans to meet Canadian friends who were only there for one night before heading to Dordogne - but without transport (trains few and far between - no taxis) we couldn't get together for dinner after all. Fingers crossed, not again.
      Of course there's the ever present threat of terrorism too. But it doesn't appear to be in the immediate consciousness of people here in Antibes. No-one seems to be talking about it as they are about petrol and strikes and battles with the government. As you've seen from FB we're having a fab time - but will need to visit the drying out fat farm soon. Pammie xx

  4. I really need to make it there one year. It looks so spectacular. Thank you for taking us along with you!

    1. It's a day out in the country and so British that you'd love it!

  5. Oh it all looks so beautiful and lush. I am so impressed by these artistically created gardens...
    love those knitted poppies too, wow!
    Thank you for sharing your photos and impressions of Chelsea.

    1. As you can see it was lovely but your roses and bungalow could have entered for themed garden!

  6. I LOVED reading your observations and agree with everything. That is so sad and worrying about the empty spaces.

    Happy Saturday (6.50 am here) x

    1. Get back to bed!!

      Very worrying and I know no one in the gardening world so curious for the backstory. You guys must come again for it!! X

  7. I have never been to a garden show, so had no idea of what kinds of displays were involved. Some of the entries were a bit involved and complicated--these might be fun for a show, but for a real garden I like a degree of simplicity.

    1. I haven't been to other garden shows and am only familiar with Chelsea - but it has different categories of gardens, plant suppliers and lots of places to shop and eat. It is also very popular with elderly gardeners so even though it is crowded it is very civil and safe albeit slow moving :)

  8. I love your Garden Show posts, thank you!

  9. loved this tour and your commentary. some day, i have to go. just scored high grove tickets today, gobsmacked!

    1. I hear highgrove is amazing and yet I never get around to it! I hope you enjoy and look forward to reading about it Debra

  10. I've loved every single photo as I was there last year and have been longing to be there again this year... but from what I've seen on other reports, perhaps this year was a bit disappointing?...I am also worried about the empty spaces - it couldn't have been fuller last year... strange as this year was in tandem with the Queen's 90th birthday... Lovely post Naomi and thanks so much for sharing xxx

    1. I bet at your level of gardening you would take away such different things from the show. I am such a no nothing amateur with a few pots that my take is really pedestrian admittedly. I think if it weren't for health and safety laws many more people would come! Imagine that? Glad you like the tour Jenny xx

  11. Loved the tour, thank you. I went many years ago, on a sweltering May day and enjoyed it immensely. Mind you, I don't think the gardens were so "out there" that year.

    Not sure about that chapel arch (might look better in Vegas), but the poppies were quite something.

    1. Sweltering May day? I counted myself lucky I didn't have to wear a shawl this year - last year I had to wear a full on coat! But gardens are definitely like wine and seem to have a vintage year so to speak. The granite cube garden and the poppies were the standouts this year.

  12. Thanks for posting. It would be wonderful to see the show in person. I had a chuckle when I looked at the photo of the Regal Arch the Queen entered through, bearing in mind your previous post. 4 women wearing white jeans! I have to confess about 4 hours before reading your post on white jeans I'd bought my first pair of white jeans! Still not game to wear them though. Den xxx

    1. I did notice that after the fact too Den - people were getting into the springsummer spirit! hehe xxx

  13. Nothing here approaches those Japanese gardens you featured awhile back; granted they had many centuries to slow-cook in the tranquility rather than the few odd days at Chelsea.

    1. It is rather chalk and cheese! It's a very sedate affair despite the crowds and the gin and tonic trucks.


    1. I just found out that the garden designer for the one I liked but didn't get a gold was from melbourne and referenced Melbourne - so subliminally I loved it for that reason!! yes and I might wear a zen outfit when I meet you too hehe xx

  15. Thanks for these pictures. I love the tribute to the Queen, both sides of it! Did I read you correctly in response to GSL, gin and tonic trucks? Ha ha! Love it. One of these days I should go to a garden show. I did make it over to the Brooklyn Botanic to see the roses just starting to come up! xx

    1. That Gee & Tee truck reference didn't escape me either Jill. I may have to stop thinking of these flower shows as staid affairs.

  16. Since living in a house with a garden I say every year that I'm going to go to this event and I never get to it! I saw the video of the moving trees which i thought was very cool but i don't think I'd want them in my garden - I think it would be a bit creepy and scary when i look out the window and see my garden moving! xx


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