It's Chelsea Showtime!

It's showtime and what better way is there than a slideshow to give you the feeling of wandering past most of the show gardens at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. There's 25 images and I've set the change to slow so you can take it all in. If you feel you need more time, then just hover your mouse over the image to stop the pages turning. I've mixed the larger show gardens with the smaller, more intimate courtyard and urban gardens because we also dotted about a bit during our viewing.
I've not included all of the gardens as some are saved for future posts or I don't have a decent image to show you. All the gardens can be viewed here, together with planting plans, interviews with some of the designers and a whole lot more. I've deliberately not given you the awards* either - it's up to you to make up your minds. H and I often differed - one of the great things about going to a show with someone else is the intense discussions you have about what's on view - and we frequently wondered why a garden had received a particular award. All the Best in Show gardens are here, but I've not showed you my favourite one yet - that deserves a delicious post all to itself.
As I said yesterday, some of the gardens failed to live up to the promise I thought they had on paper: I felt this was particularly true of The Cancer Research UK Garden - the ball focal point was utterly awful - bring back Cleve West's version from last year please! Conversely I couldn't make sense of the the back of fag packet like sketch for the Foreign and Colonial Garden, but I was pleasantly surprised by the real thing. I was also struck by how the TV changes perspective - there the large show gardens seem smaller and the courtyard/urban gardens larger somehow. The amount of information available for each garden also differed: from a small page not really giving much more than the garden's title and the designer's name, to the paving slab of information handed out by Marshalls. The designers of one of the gardens had a couple of very nice recipes specially concocted for the show - I'll leave you to guess which one that was.
We'll take a stroll round the Great Pavilion tomorrow :)
* = for those of you who don't know, the awards are gold, silver gilt, silver, bronze and no award. The garden is judged by its delivery according to the designer's own brief, plus the standard of construction and planting. Thus the garden competes against itself rather than against all the other gardens in its category: if all gardens are at gold standard (unlikely), then all the gardens will achieve gold and so on. The only 'competitive' element is the award for Best Show Garden, plus Best Courtyard and Best Urban Garden. This year there were also awards for Most Creative garden in the Show and Urban garden categories - I'm not sure if these have been awarded before - does anyone know? And BTW what's happened to the Chic garden category?


  1. Hi VP, thanks for the slide show. I just received Gardens Illustrated in the mail today with some sketches and plans of some of the gardens you have shown here and in other's posts. The Daily Telegraph's use of white flowers, the Eremurus in particular always draws my attention. Will be waiting your astute analysis. :-)

  2. what brilliant photos - thank you VP. I look forward to the Great Pavilio :D

  3. You got some great shots there VP, especially considering the crowds. Great to see you and delighted that you enjoyed your day. We will sort out that jaunt!

  4. Thanks for the tour of the show gardens VP. You have taken some great photos. Looking forward to the Grand Pavillion :)

  5. I was taken with a few of the gardens VP. Pottering in North Cumbria's use of pottery caught my eye. I've never been to a show of this magnitude and while the crowds might be an issue...the gardens would be exciting to see....Where there any particularly exciting plant combinations that you loved? gail

  6. Fantastic pictures! Strangely enough, I thought exactly the same about the Cancer Research garden, but in your photograph, I can kind of see the point of it.

  7. Great slide show - thanks. Its good to see some of the gardens from a different angle. I like the Witan one.

  8. Superb presentation Thank you

  9. Lovely photos VP, including some gardens I hadn't seen on TV before. The presenters keep saying that there is more colour in the gardens this year but with a few exceptions (and there was exceptions last year) it all looks green and white with a bit of blue to me! I just don't see the bright colours they spoke about last night.

    Looking forward to you next post! Best wishes Sylvia

  10. totally agree with you about the colours Sylvia - they're definitely what you might call "muted". not quite green-and-white like last year, but still not very bright apart from the odd splash of purple or orange here and there.

    Loved the photos VP :D

  11. Before I dive in and answer individually, I'm so glad Sylvia and CG have picked up on what I said about the lack of colour in the garden. I shouted at the telly last night when Alan Titchmarsh said there was loads of colour this year. In the Great Pavilion yes, but not in the show gardens!

    One of the reasons why The Telegraph Garden (ie Best in Show)doesn't do it for me is because I don't think there is sufficient contrast between the hardscaping and the planting. It's very tasteful and restrained, very much a 'Chelsea garden' and perfectly executed, but it just doesn't float my boat.

    Frances - I pored over the GI preview when it came out and it's a good introduction to the show. I loved the use of the Eremurus - like giant rocket fireworks!

    HM - thank you and congratulations on your F'nM award

    Maggi - thanks. Some of the gardens aren't fully in view because of all the people, but I'm pleased with how these have turned out from just using a very simple camera. Enjoy the rest of the show :D

    Anna - watch this space!

    Gail - I love that pot, so tactile don't you think? The planting in the Laurent Perrier garden was delicious, but not enough of it - there's a glimpse of it in the photo I used on Wednesday and lots more in the links I've used. I loved the Eremurus too, white alliums were a refreshing change from the usual (and rather a Chelsea cliche) mauve and I loved the white aquilegias combined with dark ones like 'Ruby Port'.

    Victoria - having watched GW last night, I see the point of it more. The inspiration's public planting in Rio de Janeiro, but the real thing is much better!

    Hermes - I was surprised by the Witan one. I expected to hate it, especially as it has glass decking. BUT I love the splash back water feature along the back wall, the planting and the play of shadows from the evening sun

    Joanne - thank you!

    Sylvia - you'd think with less gardens this year they'd have time to show all of them! However, I won't be able to show you them all either!

    CG - thank you. Your postcards from the show are scrummy.

  12. Thanks for a lovely slideshow, it was nice to see some more gardens than the ones I saw on telly.

    Perhaps Alan was referring to his own more colourful (orange skin) person? :-)

    And congrats on your Fork 'n Monkey Gold, well done VP!!!

  13. Thanks for the pictures they are great. Hope you enjoyed the piece on public planting last night, some good suggestions in there I thought and a mention of flower clocks :o)

  14. Ah see I really did think there was more colour this year. Those gorgeous meadowy plantings of deep irises and fennels in Luciano's, the masses of dark red foliage everywhere, the perfumed garden, QVC was blues and mauves, the Nature Ascendant was deep purples and reds- lots there. I think Sarah Price's two gardens in 2007 & 8 have had a lot of influence on the style of planting, softening things up a bit.

  15. thanks for taking me to Chelsea, that was a great slide show. Not sure how the judges can possibly do their job! I liked the Hesco one, I could hide away in there for a while.....

  16. Thanks for the tour since I'll never be able to go. I saw lots of good ideas that I'll consider on a much smaller scale. I had fun going along with you on your slideshow.

  17. Yolanda - glad you liked your visit and thanks for the congrats - congratulations to you too!

    Dave - I was gobsmacked when public planting was mentioned!

    Emma - it's amazing how we take different things from the same place isn't it? Somehow the foils like foliage don't lodge in my brain, it's the stuff floating over it that does. The HESCO garden was the one I remember for colour. Laurent Perrier did have colour but in very small pockets, so the overall memory I have is of all the green hedges and grasses. The QVC garden was very restful as was Nature Ascending and I'm tempted to have a look at how the latter one fares when it's sold off on eBay.

    Carrie - the HESCO garden was lovely. I liked how they'd included rainfall runoff as part of the water features too

    Monica - it was and doing these posts has further enhanced my enjoyment of the day as I've had a really good think about what I saw. There's a lot more to these gardens than meets the eye which you find out about from talking to the designers and reading their information.

    FGG - glad you enjoyed it :)

  18. I've just been looking through your slide show. (When I arrived here the other day, I'd come through 'Chrome' which doesn't cater for such things so I'm catching up.)

    Within this set of slides, there are only four gardens that I like. Of course, in real life, they might be different . . . as you have said re. planning what you do or don't want to see in advance . . . but, it's nice when that happens (not liking things) because then you aren't tempted (even theoretically) to dig up what you've got.

    As a picture-viewer rather than attender, it's interesting, a year later, to review what still stands out in one's mind. For me, it's the lavender hedge one with chicken house mostly plus a woodland one I can't describe, plus the lessons I learnt through the Alzheimer's garden.

    It will be interesting, VP, to know what you are still thinking about a year hence from now.


  19. Mary - thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking comment. It's already been interesting to see how my thoughts have developed since my visit to Chelsea. Writing about it and putting the photographs and slideshows together has bought all kinds of details to the forefront of my mind that I either didn't see in the whirl of trying to see as much as possible in the time OR they went straight into my subconscious. Already I want to have more conversations with the designers as I have so much more I want to ask them than I managed at the time, yet I'm sure the pre-planning also enabled me to have a more meaningful discussion with them than just coming to the garden cold and just saying 'nice garden' or something equally banal!

    As for last year, Cleve's garden (the Alzheimer's one) still does it for me, not only for it's exquisite design nd planting, but also because of the issues it raised about mental health and the lack of gardens at many care homes.

  20. BTW - there were 38 gardens at Chelsea this year (plus 4 in the Great Pavilion), that's loads! I've featured 28 of them, plus one still to come. If I'd got better photos of the others, then rest assured I would have included them. I still think that's more than what the BBC showed us!


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