Resonance Revisited

Like Dan Pearson's show garden last year, I've found plenty with a personal resonance at this year's Chelsea Flower Show...

Cleve West's show garden at Chelsea Flower Show
I immediately wanted to go for a walk in this garden 

Cleve West also chose to evoke a landscape this year, with his homage to the Exmoor of his childhood. It was beautifully planted and executed, with a contemporary feel rather than trying to replicate an exact slice of Exmoor. Its atmosphere took me back to geology field trips and many happy woodland walks.

Heucheraholics Haven at Chelsea Flower Show
You can always rely on Heucheraholics to bring some cheer to the Great Pavilion

Sean and Jooles's Heucheraholics Haven, brought back happy memories of childhood holidays in Bournemouth. They've excelled themselves this year and I'm delighted they won gold, especially as I always get a huge welcome whenever I see them.

Gods Own Country show garden at Chelsea Flower Show
Matthew Wilson puts the finishing touches to York Minster inspired God's Own County - A Garden for Yorkshire

My first trip to York was on the day my O Level results came out, along with the confirmation I wasn't going to fulfil my 10-year held dream and make it to medical school. Later that day, York Minster's atmosphere and its amazing stained glass windows helped calm me down and start thinking of a new way forward in life.

NAH is familiar with the city as he went to school there, so it's a special place for him too. We're off on holiday to Yorkshire soon, with at least one trip to York pencilled in for our stay.

Forever Freefolk show garden at Chelsea Flower Show
Rosy Hardy's Forever Freefolk for Brewin Dolphin

My Master's dissertation involved research into salmon and trout populations in chalk streams, so it's pleasing to see this special and precious environment discussed via a show garden.

It also highlighted no matter how deeply you study a subject there's always something else to learn. Until Monday I didn't know the UK - southern England in particular - has 160 out of the world's 200 chalk streams.

One of the microscopes in Birmingham's exhibit at Chelsea Flower Show
What was seen down each microscope also formed a giant-sized feature on Birmingham's exhibit

My change of direction which started at York ended up with me peering down one of these for hours at a time for a decade or so. I viewed exciting miniature versions of the giant coccoliths Rosy Hardy had in her show garden, plus all manner of tiny creatures and plants which form the base layer of the food chain.

I never expected to find them at Chelsea, nor to peer down them to find the tiniest of sculptures set in the eye of a needle on Birmingham's exhibit in the Great Pavilion. I walked past King's Heath nursery every day on the way to school, so I'm proud to see Birmingham do so well with gold again at Chelsea this year.

The Winton Beauty of Mathematics show garden at Chelsea Flower Show
There's also much to glean from The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden re water-saving and exotic gardening

My Master's research involved some quite complicated algorithms to explain the relationship between environmental factors and fish populations, so I was pleased to see Nick Bailey's beautiful celebration of maths and its relationships in nature. This gorgeous copper water feature was my must-have from the show.

I'm no mathematician, so luckily I could use a complicated spreadsheet to do the hard work needed with the equations and hundreds of variables. Here Nick showed nature itself can play around with maths to great effect.

Much as I loved Andy Sturgeon's and Cleve West's show gardens, it's this one that's stayed in my mind now I'm back home from Chelsea.

Senri-Sentei Artisan garden at Chelsea Flower Show
Sadly I didn't give my Mini the spot it deserved like the one on the Senri-Sentei - Garage Garden had

Finally, what could be more evocative than seeing the exact make, model and colour of your first car? My Mini was slightly younger than this one, but it was still like seeing an old friend.


  1. I commented that there was something retro chic 70's about this garden, without even noticing the age of the mini. Was focused on the round window and green paint of the render surrounding the garage. And the staircase. Great garden!

    1. It's a fab garden... and it's from the people whom last year I was criticising for doing the same garden every year. It's good to be proved wrong! I also think this is another great concept for the greening grey Britain initiative.

  2. So interesting to see a visit to Chelsea through a personal resonance such as this Michelle. Lovely post.

    You probably already have a lot on, but if you are in the Sheffield area when you are visiting Yorkshire, you are most welcome to visit.

    1. Thanks Gwenfar, much appreciated. It would be lovely to see you, but I'm not sure how long we'll actually have there now - we'll have to go down to Southampton for a family funeral at some point :(

  3. As an Exmoor resident, I am intrigued by Cleve West's garden though I'm not sure what part of Exmoor it is depicting. It is beautiful though.

  4. Of the photos you show - the garage one is certainly the most arresting. One expects to see Lady Penelope or Barbie or somebody tottering down the steps.


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