As I approach the ‘two months to go mark’ the challenges will now be coming thick and fast so expect to be overloaded with blogs until completion date. It’s all so exciting at the moment and my life is quite a whirlwind hence this blog being written a tad after the event. This 50@50 challenge was a personal one. Most/some of you will know that I love gardening (probably when I have been boring you about it lol) but I have actually only ever been to one garden/flower show and that was many years ago, before I had the bug, when my father-in-law, Colin, and his wife Tina, took me to Hampton Court which was amazing. Approximately 15-20 years has passed since then and I have followed Chelsea on the TV and intended to go, but never quite got around to it….until this year!!
I took advice from friends who had been and got there early ( I know, very unlike me!!), so I was queuing at 7.45 am for doors opening at 8am. I then headed straight for the 26,000 hand made poppies which were in the front of the Royal Hospital. It was visually stunning, each individual and personal poppy made a moving tribute; but collectively it had such a strong impact. I was glad I was able to enjoy it peacefully and reflectively.
From there I went to the Pavilion which was virtually empty so I strolled around enjoying the variety of exhibits. Particular highlights were the florists entries ( I surprised myself here) which were carnival themed, but to me looked more like stunning tribal headdresses, such intricate work, vibrant colours and amazing flower combinations. I also decided that irises and clematis were the flowers/plants I most wanted to take home and put in my garden and the protea would be my exotic choice. Below is the link to this year’s RHS plant of the year, and I am afraid I disagreed with the judges verdict…by far the most stunning flower in my opinion was the chrysanthemum ‘ Rossano Charlotte’ ( see photo below) although I would be very happy to have the winning clematis in my garden any day of the week.
It was by now mid-morning, the sun was shining and so I stopped for a pick-me-up pimms and did a bit of gardening celebrity spotting before heading to the main show gardens. I could go on endlessly here and wax lyrical about plants, sculptures etc but will instead condense it to this:- (although I will add that I did no research before I went so each garden was fresh to me which had both positive and negative results)
- my favourite garden was the Morgan Stanley Garden for Great Ormond Street Hospital (photo above) which gave me goose bumps when I laid eyes upon it, before I even knew anything about it. It was tranquil, spiritual and used trellis with patterns and holes to give height and form but without feeling enclosed. The sculptures were vast but blended gently within the foliage and planting which was not crowded or false and together this achieved a real garden with a sense of serenity; and I am still in awe, I have no idea how it was done….skill and vision beyond words.
- my other favourite was The Winton Beauty of Mathematics Garden, (photo below) which initially I was not fond of but which drew me back later again and again, each time trying to understand it a bit more. It was not my traditional style but I ended up loving it.
- my least favourite was ( sadly as I wanted to like it) Diarmuid Gavin’s Harrods Eccentrics British Garden….everything I hate in a garden…novelty, mechanics, all about the build rather than the plants = yuk!!!
- my favourite planting scheme was purple and white with a hint of orange…I may have to find a corner of the garden to experiment with this.
- best part of the show other than the gardens – by far and away it was the sculptures…I felt I was at an art gallery. They were truly amazing and at every corner…how I wish I had the spare £10-100,000 they cost ☹️
- wish list…. Affordable sculptures, clematis, and seating (which blends rather than stands out and entices me away from the weeding).
It was an amazing day where I met interesting enthusiasts to chat with ( even though I went on my own), it provided me with enough inspiration for another 5-10 years and had constant surprises like the pimms tents at every corner, the music in the park, the artisan shops, and my favourite batik artist selling her work (Jane Hickman). I ended the day with a ride on a red double decker bus back to the station and once home I shared my photos (another great thing was that this is a photographers dream to visit) with fellow enthusiasts. The latter has had a rather splendid result ………..I already have tickets booked for RHS Chatsworth 2017 (and lovely company to attend with….thank you Debbie and Nicky) which means I could not be happier.