Monday, 27 May 2013

Chelsea Flower Show 2013 Part 1

After years of turning down invitations to the Chelsea Flower Show, I finally decided to go and see what the fuss about was for myself.  It might be me getting older but a day out surrounded by flowers seemed like a fabulous idea.
I went with one of my besties for whom it was also the first time.
After the turnstiles, we saw so many heads. I had a little panic and wondered if we should retreat after seeing how crowded it was. 
But I will categorically swear that I have never been surrounded by a more polite and civic minded lot in all my life! That many people and not one scuffle, one misplaced elbow, or a muffled sigh.  Everyone was so well mannered and I am now officially a huge fan of gardeners!

I will be showing you my own pictures but I will also link it to the Royal Horticultural Society's website of each respective garden for you to see better pictures and explore further if you wish.
This Windows through Time Garden 
was the first of the show gardens we saw.  
As it was by the entrance, it was busy and hard to take proper pictures but it did win gold so do please click on link!
I am by no means an expert in the matters of gardening. 
I just like what I like.
Yes, very nice.
Love an outdoor fireplace.

Now the bottom garden was the Coutts Seeability Garden.
Nice enough but it did nothing for me and then I find it only won Silver Gilt. So maybe instinctively we all sort of know about nature?
I got completely distracted by these garden cabins.  
If I had the space I would love one in what would most likely 
be my neglected garden.
After some window shopping, we saw a garden that needed more than a cursory glance. It was Wastelands by Kate Gould Gardens.

It was an urban garden that was meant to previously be an industrial space.  The grates and concrete are a vestige of its former life but spruced up with humble and varied height planting.  ( I have been watching Alan Titchmarsh on the telly darlings. Can you tell?)
Via the RHC website
But my favourite detail and touch of up-cycling was this bathtub cut in half to serve as a garden chair. 

Now this is the type of garden where you need to know the genesis of the idea otherwise you scratch your head.
It only won silver but I thought it was lovely with its vertical planting, balance of flowers and shrubs, and water features.  So I was back to thinking I should shut up about my opinions.
Just as an FYI - the structure on the left is a homage to its pottery and kiln heritage of Stoke on Trent.

The following garden was a very unique one called "After the Fire".
As the name indicated, it was simulating a garden after having been in a fire and symbolizing regeneration of nature.
The following was the BrandAlley garden.
I quite liked the interspersed oversized urns and the curvy path.
It was obvious but I didn't expect so many stores to be exhibiting.
Standards were so high that even barbecue sellers had 
the most amazing planters!

I wasn't convinced by these sculptures.
Below was the most charming garden called the 
Mindfulness Garden that won gold.

Judging by the crowd in front of this garden, it just might be one of the more popular ones in the show.
It says, "Learn to be silent - let your quiet mind listen and absorb in silence - you will see benefits in all things." 
Went for an afternoon snack and saw this ad.
I wanted to take this home - this is sort of my slogan.
Saw a few bargains. This garden hut was on sale.
Oooh, what a bargain! Half price and all.
Saw a few ideas for my "garden".  This vertical ceramic planter 
was interesting and feasible for urban areas.
This is for the Aussies!
Not only gold but also best show garden!
Please don't call me unpatriotic but it was a bit boring to my untrained and uneducated eye.
But what do I know.
The pod thingy was kinda cool.
Only VIP's were allowed to enter and also it was extra crowded being the best in show.
The garden designer was there and was nice to see him as he has had so much press and seems very bubbly.

Of course another reason why the area was packed could have been because the BBC and its gardening star Alan Titchmarsh was filming all the Chelsea flower show broadcasts next to the garden.
The flower sculpture below was done by Marc Quinn.  He is the famed sculptor who moulded Kate Moss into clay and had the honor of putting his work on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square.
He said that it had something to do with - you guessed it - nature.
To read about it further, click here.

The Stop the Garden below rather suited the late afternoon.
I thought it should have gotten gold instead of silver.

I have a feeling that if I had a garden that it would look like this but without the trees or the lawn, just the mulchy bit.

This garden evoked an interesting reaction from gardening newbies like my friend and I.  At first we saw it from this angle and were surprised it won a Gold.  
I thought it might have won because it was a Brewer Dolphin garden and it is a brand name in the gardening world.
But the more and more we saw it and walked by it, 
it completely grew on us.
So now, I am thinking if I have enough space then 
this might be a garden I might copy.

Even companies took the opportunity to do some clever marketing by having a stand at the show.
Liz Earle had a little herbal patch showcasing the plants it uses in its products.
I must show you my personal favourite 
of all the show gardens.
It is the gold medal winning East Village Garden.
It had all the elements I like in a garden.
A curved path, a water feature, and a varied height of plants and color from shrubs as opposed to only flowers.

The lilies and irises didn't hurt either.

The biggest question mark for me was this garden called 
the Telegraph Garden.
To my uneducated eye, all I saw was unfinished woodwork and and over cramped hedges.  There wasn't even enough room to walk around inside it even if you were allowed in!
If I didn't know better, it looked like someone ran out of money 
to finish lacquering the wood because 
all the money went into trimming the shrubs.

This was the Laurent-Perrier Garden that also won gold.

The Arthritis UK Garden won both gold and 
the People's Choice Awards for show gardens.

Last but not least, the garden that got the most headlines.
This was the B&Q Sentebale Forget-me-not Garden.
You may think this garden got most of its publicity due to the royal patronage of Prince Harry in conjunction with his work with one of his charities working with the people of Lesotho.
The press was saying it was about grief and of course that was a great segue leading back to the memory of Princess Di.
But actually the real news headliner was the use of an ornament that has not been allowed in the last hundred years of the show.
What is that in the distance?
I thought they were real elves because gnomes are sooooo not 
Royal Horticultural Society!!!
So it was only appropriate that someone who is an actual blue blood break this tradition and start making gnomes fashionable again!
 I apologize to those garden experts out there with my lack of knowledge but in any case this is for those who were unable to make the show. :)
I will be doing Part 2 shortly that will show the artisan gardens and all the goodies that were inside the Pavilion.
Thanks for joining me so far! 


  1. You have made my day with this post - just lovely and so good of you to take so many pictures! I just had to cover my tomatoes for fear of frost, so this is a nice treat!

    1. Thanks WMM! I will post part 2 soon - there was just too much to show in just post which is why I linked to the website so you could browse through so many other show gardens I didn't show!

  2. Thank you for the lovely photos! I've always wanted to go but I'm always working.

    I love gardens and never thought businesses/brands create their own to showcase? Is that Brand Alley the same online store? And Liz Earle!

    Those garden cabins are to die for. That's one home feature I've always fancied, next to a pond with running water. That's heaven!

    The bath tub cut in half is so bohemian! I love it :D


    1. PS. The last 2 photos didn't open on my iPad. They're so cute!! Hahahaha...

  3. Thanks for posting all these photos - it almost felt like I was there! I have always wanted to see the Chelsea Flower Show in real life. It looks stunning!

    1. Hi Louise, this post was for those who are too far or couldn't be bothered to go so thanks for that!

  4. Love all your photos. I remember when I lived in London all those years ago I walked past the Chelsea show each day it was on as I walked along the embankment to work... and never went! Now I'm kicking myself.. but back then I wasn't so interested in gardens, and I didn't feel like braving the crowds. One day I'll get back there!
    Love a gnome - we have a heap of vintage ones (that makes it sound better than brand new ones) at my Dad's in the grotto.... which we've nicknamed the gnomery. The children like to visit them and see if they've moved from one visit to the next. xx

    1. I was just like you for ages. I would see people walk around Kings Road with foxgloves trying to get into taxis and think what is the point of all that kerfuffle? But it must be because I am on the other side of 35 that I am finally seeing the light! I went with my friend who was my partner in crime back in the day and we both couldn't believe we were in the flower show as opposed to a nightclub...I think gnomes are adorable but like the Cornish I am sure they have powers! xx PS would love to see the gnomery

  5. Love this idea~ I've been meaning to go to the LA flower district!! Gorgeous photos!!

    Lauren at adorn la femme

    1. But in LA it's lovely all the time! I especially love the jacarandas in May and June there xx

  6. I think an appreciation for gardens and flowers does come with age - I now spend many a weekend at the garden centre! You've taken such fabulous photos - wouldn't one of those garden cabins be such a treat? If I only I had the space - for now the vertical garden is probabably more realistic for me!!

    1. Oh yes a big garden cabin is now on my wish list! You are so right that these things come with age. I was getting a list of all the seeds I want in my dream garden whereas before it would have been only a dream wardrobe!x

  7. haha cool visit, I should introduce you to my BF... he always wants to go to "parc floral" and I'm soooo not into this kind of stuff.(I mean I see a flower, I say it's pretty,yes, but then I want to go... and he just wants to stay in the grass and contemplate nature... and I just don't get it. OK I get it cause I actually feel the same with the beach. I love to sit and watch the waves, it calms me down. So let's say I get it but don't feel it. However the garden that I prefer is the one from Monet, I don't know if you ever had the chance to visit it, it's pretty nice !

    1. Just wait another ten years Melo and you will totally get it ;p But there was something so lovely about the vibe of the place and the people. As a pressie for your BF I would suggest a day out at the show next year! Yes I adore Monet's garden - how amazing it is that it still gives so much joy a century later!

    2. hehe this year I 'm not sure how pretty the parcs are going to be... with this weather !

  8. Gorgeous. Jealous.

    Hope all is well with you.

    Take care.

    1. Yes it was lovely but then again you live in nature all year round so I don't know if you would have been that impressed! Hope the seeding and weather is on your side! x

  9. I've never been, but I've been watching Alan Titchmarsh's reports on the telly every night. it looks like a great day out. I love those little garden rooms.

    1. I think you would love it - actually the past few years I watched Alan every night as well and the show finally convinced me to go. Mind you the tickets sell out a few months beforehand so you have to be prepared and buy them in spring!

  10. Wow! You've been to some great events in the past week haven't you madame.

    Now I never imagined that you would have turned down an invitation to go to this show, but that is probably my ignorance assuming that because you like interior design, you'd enjoy exterior design too.

    It's lucky that you had such lovely weather because that has really done the pictures justice - it looks stunning, even the features that you weren't too impressed with. I wouldn't mind looking out on to the Laurent Perrier Garden one day! I wouldn't mind a gnome or two either, just for the fun of it!


    1. Yes I have been a busy bee! Oh yes, there is a big difference between those two. They seem like a natural fit but I think I ignored the gardens for a good decade before I even considered it! We were lucky with the weather except it did turn and was freezing. I thought the gnomes were so fun and I might put a few gnomes outside my house just to guard it ( I just hope my neighbours write in though...) xx

  11. Oh this sounds like a lovely way to spend the afternoon-so sophisticated and lovely. The gnomes add a touch of whimsy.
    I love flowers and gardening so this is an inspiration!
    xx, Heather

    1. Next trip you make over here, try and make sure you coincide with the show bc I think you will love it! xx

  12. I am devouring this post word by word, garden by garden. Chelsea Garden Show, right up by "curvy path" as you know! Thank you for "taking me along with you". As usual laughed out loud at the "mulchy bit"!
    p.s. can't wait for part 2!!

    1. I know you are a gardener with a lovely garden so do put this on your to do list! PS the last day they sell everything off at a very cheap price! xx

  13. Got to say I'm not a fan of gardening at all, but I like to be surrounded by flowers (and polite people) sounds like fun!

    The Dress Code | A Beauty, Music, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

    1. It was an experience and even if you dont like gardening I would say that it is a place to go at least once!

  14. Oh my, SO many flowers, gardens and arrangements.
    Thank you for taking us on a thorough tour. I would never had made it on my own, even were I there.
    Over here ( Finland ) we naturally have less flowers, yet many ( older people ) fill their small backyard with flowers and vegetables, spices and leave a small patch for grass to grow ( to be mowed ).
    Actually a typical Finnish garden looks boring.
    I´d like my yard/ garden to fit the house, the surroundings and my own needs ( minimal ).
    Once more, thank you for all the pictures.

    1. Oh Mette, sooooooooo many flowers - you haven't even seen part two yet! I like the idea of a few spices in the garden. I just have a few herbs as that is easy to maintain. I am not a big fan of lawns for that precise reason. But I don't know very much, I like anything that has color and think what others consider a weed a flower :)

  15. Thanks for popping by so I can find your fabuloso blog. Gardeners are such civilised types, strollers rather than elbowers. I think those little gnomey people save that garden from being a little bit Mausoluem at the end-ish.

    1. Yes, gardeners truly are such a decent lot! And I agree those gnomes made that garden otherwise it just didn't really flow but I suppose Harry could have just stood there and that would have drawn the crowds...

  16. So many wonderful garden accessories .. love the whimsical gnomes. I can't get enough flowers this time of year. Hear in the PNW, we are just beginning to garden.

    1. I am curious to see the evolution of gnomes now that they are let loose! But where is the PNW - is it the pacific northwest? I hope I am right. Ah, if it is, I have never been - is it true it rains as much as England?

  17. Such a great trip around the CFS!!
    I lived just around the corner from it for some years and never once went.... I'm allergic to crowds, but if they are as polite and lovely as you say, then I may well get there one day.
    The pics are great, and I love the bath tub chair! Also love the gnomes and the fab garden sheds!!
    I'm rather jealous of your recent activities. Hermes, CFS.... Dd you make it to the J Crew pop up shop? ;-)

    1. I know - so many just ignore the show and then it hits you! Next time you are in town - try and make the trip coincide as it is really a lovely outing and the crowds are a false alarm. Never have been less intruded in public. You know what - I didn't make it to the J Crew pop up but I should have gone and done a reportage for you! But they are coming for good soon. I will def go when the store has their opening ;)

  18. This does look like such a nice day out. I feel a bit ashamed about how naff my garden looks now. Must. Do. Better. xx

    1. Do not have garden guilt! This is like genetically modified stuff and even the pro gardeners are freaking out hehe x

  19. I love going to flower shows!! There was an orchid exhibit near by a while ago and I said to my friend I wanted to go and she just shook her head: "My mom would love to go with you though.":D Surprisingly, my bf was excited to go with me in the end.:)

    P.S.: Ok, that bathtub chair is cool!!!

    1. I love that chair as well - so clever no? You are very mature Peet because at your age I thought they were all boring fuddy duddies! ;)


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