Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Singing in the Rain

Previously I've experienced plenty of gales, strident heat and shivering coolness at Chelsea Flower Show, so I suppose a trot around in the rain was long overdue. Luckily Monday's weather turned out to be a good thing...

Raindrops fall on the World Vision Fresh garden at Chelsea Flower Show

Raindrops add an extra dimension, especially if you're using your client's signature black water like John Warland did for World Vision's Fresh garden. Dark shadows add intrigue too - for once I wasn't annoyed by someone getting into the shot either. The zingy lime greens and yellows, plus the attractive 'windows' into the world below provided contrast. I revisited this garden a number of times.

It illustrates World Vision's vital work in Cambodia. I'm pleased to see they also have a key project in Nepal at the moment - something close to my heart now I have a Nepalese allotment neighbour. You might also like to note they're having a Floral Friday on July 10th to highlight children living in fear - something for us to join in with online perhaps?

Chris Beardshaw's Healthy Cities Garden in the rain at Chelsea Flower Show

Gardens look good in sunshine, but it takes skill to make them sing in the rain. Chris Beardshaw chose a predominantly sultry palette for his Healthy Cities Garden, so it's the hardscaping which lifts this view on a rainy day. I particularly liked how the rain added some shadowy details to the paving, even it it did result in my most embarrassing conversation of the day:

Me: Has Chris's garden been judged yet?
Jane Southcott (Chris's PR person): No, it's not until 11.30
Me: Is Chris going to remove that piece of string on the paving? (that wiggly line you can see just in front of the first set of fountains)
Jane: That's a map of the Thames...

...Thank goodness I didn't have that conversation with the man himself.

Elsewhere it was notable how the use of wood in both Matthew Wilson's and Adam Frost's designs added warmth and a glow on a rainy day, something Victoria also spotted in her fine review of the show.

The Telegraph show garden at Chelsea Flower Show 2015

If the hardscaping doesn't do it, then a careful choice of plants is needed for a rainy day. Here the white, yellow and silver make the planting sing on The Telegraph's garden. For me, the Eremurus was the star plant of the show as it was used to good effect on several gardens, even if Matthew Wilson had to apply some emergency bamboo staking to his

Elsewhere, orange was another striking plant colour of the day, particularly on the Sentebale garden as noted by Alison and a number of other bloggers at the show. Perhaps we should make better use of this oft-derided colour in our own gardens.

We sit in our gardens in sunshine, yet often view them in the rain. My trip to this year's Chelsea Flower Show gave me lots of design pointers and food for thought as I re-work through the design of my own garden.

Finally, it's always good to bump into blogging buddies, who make it much easier to shrug off the weather. Here's Naomi in action, one of the many friends I teamed up with for a while on the day. It was interesting to see what her eyes spotted in the Fresh gardens we visited and it was fun to play the role of her 'assistant' so we both got the benefit of that red umbrella.


  1. Very nice pictures despite the rain. Inspiring!

    1. Thanks Susanne and welcome to Veg Plotting :)

  2. Glad you had a good time despite the rain. I'm laughing about your string comment. An easy mistake to make. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the gardens, I've not seen much coverage yet.

    1. Luckily Jane takes this kind of thing in her stride and yes, that exchange has made me giggle too :)

      At least I wasn't alone, one of the photographers wondered if it was deliberate or needed tidying away.

  3. Hee hee! Chris Beardshaw probably got used to it. He was very good tempered about it when I was there. I didn't actually think it was string, but I did ask him, "What's the wiggly line?"

    Great photos. I thought the World Vision was gorgeous too.

    1. Helen - you'd think we'd know by now, especially as we see it every time Eastenders is on!

  4. Despite the inconvenience when taking pics the rain did give a different dimension to viewing the gardens, if not making them look nicer.

    1. I've seen so many people apologising for their photos from Monday, I thought I'd try to be more positive! Besides, it has given me some pointers towards making my planting look better in all kinds of weather. I've decided I need more 'sticky-up' plants too!

  5. Yey! Telegraph and World Vision's Fresh garden - wonderful. Sorry we missed you! XXXx

  6. Great to see your visit :-) I love taking photos after rain especially as it shows the colour green in such depth. Now, the colour orange has replaced yellow for me for a few years back. I seriously surprised myself there with that. I particularly love it with greys, purple and deep cerise pinks. Sounds like you had fun despite the rain - my only Chelsea trip ( a good few years ago) saw rain all day and getting photos of show gardens was a case of holding a camera above a sea of umbrellas!

    1. That sounds such a disappointment Shirley :( One of my best photography days ever was trotting around a garden in the rain. As you say, it really brings out the greens and the light is more even.

  7. Camassias (the light blue you see on Chris Beardshaw's garden) were another star plant, both at Chelsea and Malvern this year :)


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