I'm back from a couple of jolly days at Chelsea Flower Show which was hot, steamy and thoroughly enjoyable. I had an extra special treat as I was invited onto a couple of the show gardens. Yay!
The above picture is the view whilst relaxing on the wonderful bench of Positively Stoke on Trent a garden designed to demonstrate city's forward thinking and use of renewable resources to power its future. The children you can see on the left were involved in growing some of the plants for the garden.
The planting started with cool greens and whites then progressed through pinks to the deepest of reds. This represents the heating of the groundwater which Stoke is tapping into for heating schemes in the city. The garden's pool also had satisfying bubbles and ripples rising up to the surface to represent the same theme.
Of course, no garden from Stoke should ignore its pottery heritage, so here's one of the specially commissioned pieces from Moorcroft at the warmer end of the planting. I also learnt ceramics are at the forefront of modern industry in the city, such as its use to deliver controlled doses of life saving drugs over a long period of time.
Two arches carry the water over the garden to represent the recycling of the groundwater. I got rather lost in the dreamy reflections they added to the planting.
Here's a picture from Sunday when Cleve West was putting the final touches for his paradise show garden for M&G investments. Cleve sculpted the central feature which references his discovery of a tortoise when he dug in the garden for the first time as a child. Imagine my delight when I was invited to walk through the garden yesterday. After judging of course!
It was quite a surprise to feel the temperature drop as soon as I stepped into the garden. The central pool with its four rills helped to do that and shows how well the original makers of paradise gardens in the middle east understood the use of water to create a cool oasis.
Here's a plant I first encountered at the Chelsea Fringe launch last week as it was one of the plants used in the Tiny Taxonomy exhibit. Cleve used it as an accent plant in the floor around his water feature. Your help with its ID would be appreciated. NB there's a Shows of Hands Fringe special to come from Chelsea Flower Show too.
I loved how the planting progresses from a dense matrix to a sparser effect in the gravel.
At this point it suddenly smelled just like I was back in the Mediterranean as Cleve's planting had switched to more drought tolerant plants from this region. It was so evocative and another surprise I hadn't expected to encounter at Chelsea.
I feel so lucky to have wandered through both of these gardens at my leisure. My thanks to Cleve and the head of Place Directorate at Stoke City Council for being such generous hosts.