Chelsea's Great Pavilion

Come with me for a wander around the Great Pavilion at Chelsea in just 34 slides. Such wonders and colours are there to behold and people to meet, but sadly I can't waft the scent at you which was wonderful. Except for the roses, surprisingly - did anyone else find the vast stands of them were curiously lacking in scent?

I'm a useless pap though. Whilst I managed to capture Jekka McVicar, Chris Beardshaw (especially for Arabella) and Christine Walkden, I totally failed to with the very orange Alan Titchmarsh, plus James, Lila das Gupta, Bunny Guinness, James Wong and Wayne Hemingway :( James as usual was a delight though I did tease him rather about his new role as TV's royal commentator. My friend H now calls me a garden tart because I was forever going off and chatting to people, but that's the best bit of the show! I was expecting to be disappointed at not being able to buy plants, but in reality I found the stands were much calmer places than usual with plenty of time to have a natter with the exhibitors.

I needed to visit Raymond Evison not only because I'd buy his whole stand if I won the lottery, but also because I wanted to thank him for my Clematis 'Crystal Fountain'. He's such a gentleman. I had a very long chat with Jekka McVicar and found out she reads this blog! How chuffed am I? :D We discussed her final Chelsea, the gnome controversy and the future of the RHS. There's 957 plants on her largest exhibit ever and her first water feature - designed by her husband. A passer-by asked 957, why didn't you go for 1,000? Jekka simply smiled graciously and said - Because it only needed 957.

A call at Writhlington School's Orchid Project exhibit was a must because I met one of the exhibitors on the train to London. It's a fascinating project and they're now seeking to reintroduce an extremely rare orchid back into the wild in Sikkim, India. They're having problems in getting a permit to do so - do you know of anything that could help them? I was also told that gnomes aren't the only banned article from RHS shows: flags are too, so they had to 're-brand' the prayer flags sent from the school they're twinned with in India as 'prayer banners' ;)

Other highlights were the exhibits from the Caribbean, the native flora of Kirstenbosch and the amazing vegetable creations from Jersey Growers. The spirit of Medwyn Williams at Chelsea is alive and well as he advised them on the staging of the latter exhibition. I resisted ordering everything off Solva's Heuchera stand, though a friendly chat with them yielded my very own Heucheraholics pen and fridge magnet - something reserved for very special bloggers :) I thought the floral art would leave me cold, but the demonstration of how to put elegant posies and bouquets together was fascinating. My absolute favourite though was Winchester Growers' Dahlias. It was an incredible stand cram packed with what must have been 1000s of blooms which don't usually flower until at least July. Have a look here for more information on how they did it - it was touch and go on whether they'd actually make it to Chelsea.

What a fun and inspirational place. Tomorrow, I'll reveal my favourite show garden.


  1. This is the one thing I really missed about not going this year. The opportunity to loose myself amongst all the beautiful plants in the Floral Pavilion.

    Lots of wonderful picture though, so I don't feel quite so bereft now.

  2. Thank you for such an interesting tour - so much better than the BBC in my opinion.

  3. Wonderful photos again, VP. I look forward to your favourite garden.

  4. Hi VP, thanks for doing this for those of us not able to attend and especially those of us not even able to see on TV. The wheel of fortune Jersey veggies were delightful, and the lavender display amazing. How much more color it was inside. That is what I have always thought Chelsea was like, color everywhere, and flowers. Not so much the trees and shrubs of the outdoor exhibits. I crave the Eremurus, but have not been able to get it going here although Christopher of Outside Clyde in North Carolina, not that far from here can grow it.

  5. Why was I not surprised that you visited the Solva stand!! I am having second thoughs about Chelsea and think I might give it a go next year

  6. Hi there VP !
    Amazing tour .. amazing designs : )
    I think I would have had to live there for a while .. just too beautiful to let go of ? LOL

  7. Zoe - so glad I've helped to close the gap a bit. It was your posts from last year which inspired me to go this year.

    Hermes - you flatter me :) I think sometimes a still image does more than a moving one and of course you have longer to really take things in

    HM - Favourite garden's on its way!

    Frances - weren't those veggies fantastic! Yes there was lots of colour, especially in the Great Pavilion and I think you'd have loved the scent too. I'm tempted by the Eremurus - but I've a feeling I've looked into them before and found they're not really suited to my soil. I must look again as they're real floral fireworks aren't they?!

    PG - I thought of you herding me past their stand at Malvern! I think you'd love Chelsea too.

    Joy - I'm still there - in my head at least :)

  8. I think we have nearly the same set of photos from the pavilion! Also I fell in love with podyphillum (or whatever it is) 'Spottie Dottie' at Malvern, great plant, great name! I saw Jane Perrone had mentioned it somewhere too. Well done on the Beardshaw front - I only saw him in the great distance up on the filming platform!

  9. Lovely photos. I saw the Heuchera stand - I'm not usually a great fan, but I did find myself warming to them. Jekka McVicar's stand was superb, though I couldn't see the Gnome!

  10. Arabella - I've lost my heart to Spotty Dotty! I thought you'd be glued to CB for the entire day :0

    EG - thanks. Jools and Sean are so enthusiastic about Heucheras, I'm not surprised it rubbed off on you a little. As for Jekka McVicar, she sent Borage home apparently! But wasn't her final stand at Chelsea just fantabulosa? :)

  11. A really great slideshow VP. Thanks for the close up of Jekka McVicar's stand - I heard her lecture a couple of years ago and her knowledge of herbs is formidable. Loved the veggie wheel.

  12. Anna - I've been to Jekka's Herb Farm a couple of times when she's had her open days. It's an inspirational place. And I loved those veggie wheels too.

  13. Thanks for the mini tour. Someday, I hope to go. It would be worth it just to see Evison's display, although those food displays are works of art too. I hope you like Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' as much as I do. It's a terrific plant.

  14. Hi MMD - good of you to drop by when the arrangements for the Spring Fling must be reaching a crescendo!

    I love my C. 'Crystal Fountain' - it's my second attempt though as the first turned out to be a sport!

    I hope you can come on over to Chelsea some day - perhaps we need a Spring Fling there! I do hope it goes well and I'll be thinking of you and all the fun you'll be having.


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