The Alternative Chelsea Awards

The real awards have been handed out and the People have also made their choice. Now it's time for me to consider the more sought after obscure prizes for this year's show gardens at Chelsea. Ladies and Gentlemen, please don your tuxedos, tiaras and gladrags for the most exclusive awards ceremony of them all. Beamed live into your home from Chippenham at a mere click of a mouse, please welcome the inaugural lighthearted Vivacious Perennial Prizes. Note: the gardens highlighted in yesterday's post are excluded from these awards as I've already written about them in some detail.

The Barbara Cartland: Most creative use of a single pink cultivar - Quilted Velvet for their 1000s of Busy Lizzies (Impatiens)

Fork to Fork: Best display of vegetables in a show garden - Freshly Prepared by Aralia, especially for their yummy kitchen splashback living wall

Hide and Seek: Worst plant:hardscaping combination - The Japanese Tranquil Garden for their innovative use of mauve alliums against a mauve background. Runner up: Daily Telegraph for its combination of white planting with light coloured stone

Bernard Leach: Most pleasing and tactile shape - Pottering in Cumbria for their 'onion' pots

BOGOF*: Lots of gardens and ideas for the price - Marshalls Living Street

The Mogadon: The most somniferous garden - a hotly contested category this one because the Laurent Perrier (pictured) and The Telegraph gardens were very well executed, but I felt they had nothing fresh to say. However, the late group entry made by a consortium of leading Courtyard gardens just has the edge as they were exquisite but a number of them were very similar in style

The Queen's Award For Innovation: The Children's Society Garden for its foldaway washing line. Now you see it, now you don't...

Mott the Hoople: Roll Away the Stone (sha la la la push push) - Cancer Research UK

Poundstretcher Special Award: Sarah Eberle for her Credit Crunch triumvirate

The One That Got Away: I realised when I got home I hadn't seen it (sorry Claire) - Dawn Chorus

Do have a look at my Showtime slideshow for pictures of most of these gardens: the BBC and RHS websites have lots more details, planting plans etc etc.
* = Buy One Get One Free


  1. I have so enjoyed your coverage this year. All the BBC showed was the Alan Titchmarsh show.

  2. The Barbara Cartland award was very well deserved I believe!! That see of Impatiens was amazing. Hate them really but the effect was good.


  3. I didn't think there had been a People's Award this year? The Beeb canned it didn't they?

    My impression this year was the BBC really struggled to find gardens worth talking about, they repeated the same few each night it seemed to me. So much so, I didn't bother watching most the coverage, which is a first for me. A.T. has def lost his mojo, I used to really enjoy listening to him talk, and Joe seemed to get hung up on the same few adjectives, I got to the point that if I heard the word 'narrative' again I was going to squeam and squeam and til I was sick.

    Sad I missed the Floral Pavilion,that looked stunning and up to its usual high standard, but the gardens with the exception of a couple of the courtyard ones left me cold.

  4. Love the VP Prizes!!! Great fun.

  5. I don't know how its arranged - if their is a bidding process, like Sporting Events - but I think it would be good if ITV or C4 could do the coverage for a few years. The BBC seem to have become complacent and a bit of real competition would do them good.

  6. ~I bet Joe was kicking himself every time he said 'narrative' - normally i start saying words like that a lot more as soon as i realise I am over-using them... it's like a compulsion takes over me. The same compulsion that makes me say "ooh, i'm dying for a sandwich' at funerals, etc

  7. Yep the narrative got to me too!

    It's a shame you missed the Beardshaw mentorship garden it was really rather lovely.

    I think the Cancer Org garden got the People's award and the Plasticine One got the small gardens people's award - which just goes to show you can't trust the people really.

  8. It would have been wonderful to see the gardens in person so I could actively participate! I did very much enjoy your slide show! gail

  9. Hermes - thank you

    Ryan - I nearly wrote a post in defence of Busy Lizzies last year, but that garden has put me off! Did you see they were giving them away at the breakdown yesterday?

    Zoe - Arabella's answered this one. It was run by the RHS instead of the BBC this year and voting was via the RHS website. I voted for Future Nature and the Pottering in Cumbria gardens. I've now added the link to the Peoples' Choice part of the RHS website. In spite of the excess use of THAT word, I thought Joe was a bit better this year - he seem to have lost some of his eager to please puppyness with AT. And yes, the Floral Pavilion was marvellous. Sigh.

    OFB - thanks - it's nice to end with a bit of fun. I've a similar one planned for tomorrow :)

    Hermes - that's an idea, except ITV made Formula 1 almost unwatchable in the meantime.

    Emmat - I was having similar problems with Dan Pearson's use of Sense of Place today. Apart from that he was just fab though.

    Arabella - that's a shame. Did you see that Nature Ascending went up for sale on eBay. I must check to see if anyone bought it for £32,000. Thanks for adding the bit about the People's Award - I didn't have time to put the link in after scheduling this post. It's there now.

    Gail - so glad you enjoyed it and yes, it's a great show to go to :)

  10. PS I've been to the Hay Festival today because I won a ticket to go and see Dan Pearson :)

    Naturally I took the opportunity to browse in the 2nd hand bookshops and came away with a book all about Chelsea Flower Show!

  11. Good for you, the people's awards, the awards that truly matter. I love it!

    I was quite disappointed with this years gardens, though of course I didn't see them 'in real life'. So few real sanctuaries.

  12. The Digger and I disagreed about the Japanese Garden - I liked the purple - thought it complemented tha Alliums he didn't. Fascinating how we see things differently.
    The Quilted Velvet garden was strangely creepy to me though I quite liked the cushions!

  13. Carrie - I think you would have found sanctuary in the Courtyard gardens. Most of them were very similar and it looks like the TV only really featured a couple of them.

    EG - wouldn't it be boring if we all shared the same tastes? I would have liked to have sunk down on those cushions in the Quilted Velvet garden, but getting there would have been rather difficult! I think the pink and grey combo helped to make it seem a bit creepy.

  14. I saw the designer of Quilted Velvet interviewed and he said that the walkway over the columns to the cushion area was meant to be 'uncomfortable' to emphasise the comfort of the seating area when you got to it. Or something like that. Clearly it succeeded if people found it a bit creepy. I rather liked the surreal aspect of it.

  15. Arabella - it just kept on giving me the giggles because of the sponsor. Something I see James and Cleve couldn't resist either. Seriously though, you can see a link in style between this garden and 'Ecstasy in a Black Box' from Hampton Court last year.


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