Tag Archives: Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea Flower Show 2017


Terribly late again with this year’s Chelsea post but I don’t seem to have been at home much since my very chilly visit on Wednesday evening.

If you want detailed, beautiful blog coverage I’d heartily recommend the Frustrated Gardener, who has not only shared multiple posts on this year’s Chelsea, but also seems to share my opinions on this year’s gardens to an almost spooky degree!

The garden above is Nick Bailey’s Winton Beauty of Mathematics garden, and definitely one of my favourites.  Looking back at my first Chelsea post in 2014 I noted that there was no orange in any of the show gardens, and yet two years later it was everywhere.  Here, the Geum ‘Mai Tai’ picks up on the wonderful sweep of etched copper. Nick is head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden and I recently purchased his book, 365 days of colour in your garden, which, as you might imagine from this assured yet stimulating planting, is an absolute treat.

More bronzy orange in the Garden of Mindful Living garden, which pulled off hard lines softened by planting in a limited palette but with lots of calming, soft green.  The one thing I didn’t like was the (to me) rather cheesy photo.IMG_0733IMG_0736

And of course another garden making use of orange, was Best in Show, Andy Sturgeon’s garden for The Telegraph.  Here the magnificent Isoplexis canariensis picked up the colour of the flames in the fire pit.

I feel I admired this garden rather more than loved it, prefering my gardens softer. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s pulled off a striking, thought provoking design, I just don’t think I’d want to live with it.IMG_0739


Below, Cleve West’s M&G design, was inspired by his Exmoor childhood and provided a beautifully calming understated scene.  The perimeter oaks were surprisingly dainty and whilst a little frustrating in the way they blocked visitors’ views, they really added to the atmosphere of the space.IMG_0721


The LG Smart Garden had some gorgeous soft planting, in both colour and form.  No challenging brights or sharp lines here, but enough contrast to keep it interesting. Definitely a garden to retreat to after a hard day at the coal face!IMG_0727

The planting at the Support the Husqvama Garden, to me didn’t work as well, but then I’m never comfortable mixing white flowers with dark as they have here.IMG_0731

Into the Grand Marquee for more orange in the form of Geum ‘Scarlet Tempest’ (doesn’t look very scarlet to me) which came second in the RHS Plant of the Year competition,IMG_0765

a lovely combination on the Daisy Roots stand,IMG_0796

new introduction, Rosa ‘Roald Dahl’ from David Austin roses (I forgot to upload the photo) as well as these extraordinary blooms, Scadoxus multiflorus from Jacques Amand.IMG_0788

Elsewhere a stunning display from Bowdens Nursery included a train carriage, but perhaps even more impressive, endless unnibbled hostas,IMG_0774

and gorgeous alpines from Rotherview Nursery.


And to finish, my favourite Artisan garden, the Senri-Sentei – Garage Garden.IMG_0802

and look, I’m not the only one enjoying it!IMG_0806


Chelsea Flower Show 2015 – show gardens


So, very late to the Chelsea blogging party, and, whilst I very nearly didn’t post at all, I was spurred on by the number of times I’ve referenced last year’s two posts (here and here) myself, to source plant or nursery names.  Consequently, if I’m the only one who reads this, so be it!

I attended this year on Tuesday, after work, and as always, the show was fascinating, but for me, not quite as impressive as last year.

Two Artisan Gardens stood out for me – the Breast Cancer Haven Garden, which won Peoples’ Choice and a Gold medal, and IMG_7268

Edo no Niwa – Edo Garden, by Ishiihara Kazuyuki Design.  Again the moss took centre stage and, like last year, I found his design fresh and beguiling.IMG_7272

In the main show gardens, whilst I hugely admired Dan Pearson’s Chatsworth garden, to me it’s not what Chelsea’s about.  It was undoubtedly beautiful, moving and completed ‘owned’ its triangular plot, but I like a Chelsea Garden to inform my own gardening and leave me with dreams and ideas about what I could do back home; on the basis that I’m not about to start craning in huge rocks and I’d rather admire wild flowers on the Duver, for me it was brilliant but not inspiring.  Does that make any sense?




And, whilst the Sentabale Hope in Vulnerability Garden, also wasn’t exactly relevant to a garden on the Isle of Wight, I somehow completely forgave it.  Partly, I think, because it was for charity, and partly because I just loved all the wooden construction and how evocative it was, even in the gloom, of the colours of Africa.IMG_7319IMG_7320


The second garden related to breast cancer, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, was also striking, particularly the contrast between the hard landscaping and the softness of the planting.  I also found the sculpture, by Rick Kirby, really moving.  It is designed to symbolise the ‘courage and dignity of all those fighting the disease’.IMG_7400

I think my favourite planting was at the Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw.   After the show, the garden will be transferred almost entirely to form the centrepiece of a new community project that is being launched by Morgan Stanley in East London.IMG_7364

Much of the planting used the sort of ‘bruised’ colours I’m trying to bring together in my Mid Century Bed at home.  I particularly liked the Lupin Masterpiece andIMG_7375

and Verbascum Merlin.                                 IMG_7371

Another garden where I enjoyed both the planting and the design, was the Pure Land Foundation Garden.  There was something so fresh about the organic white walls and the warm oranges and yellows of the planting.  Plenty of inspiration for my new Bronze bed here.




I wasn’t looking forward to the Telegraph Garden as I’m not a big fan of straight lines in gardens, and I also felt that a Mondrian inspired garden, when he used no green, seemed a strange basis for the planting, but actually I warmed to the garden as I looked more closely. There were definitely some issues with plants not yet flowering, but there were some stunning combinations including the Tulips Couleur Cardinal and poppies, growing through the grasses.



The Brewin Dolphin Garden I’d seen on the early BBC coverage, (I still haven’t seen any coverage since Monday) and I thought the slate looked overwhelming.  In real life that wasn’t the case at all, and although the slate made a fantastic feature, it seemed to recede against the planting.IMG_7302

In the Fresh Gardens, I liked the Dark Matter Garden, with all it was trying to convey.  And whilst the concept of dark matter is rather challenging, enjoying the shapes and colours of the steel – together with the matching verbascum – was easy.IMG_7390


More curvilinear shapes at the Royal Bank of Canada garden designed by Matthew Wilson.  The bench here definitely won my ‘structure of the show’ award.  Just stunning.

And what’s even more exciting is that the garden is being moved to the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Isle of Wight after the show.



As you can see from the photo above, the storm clouds were gathering, and indeed, the heavens opened.  Time to head to the Grand Pavilion…IMG_7420

Where are you blue (kangaroo*) mouse ears?

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It started with a gift from lovely neighbour Martin a couple of weeks ago – a large pot containing a hosta, already showing its ‘horns’.  It made me wonder where my hostas were, and the answer was, they weren’t.

Fast forward three weeks and they’re all coming along well apart from one – ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

I have two beds including hostas, the first, the aptly named ‘hosta bed’ was created last year in a small north facing strip of a bed behind the new porch.  I was due to open the garden in June, together with others in the village, under the ‘Secret Garden of St Helens’ banner, and thought this bed was looking particularly tragic with nothing but a rather untidy Hydrangea Petiolaris to offer.  So when I was at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, I sought out the Bowdens stand, had a lovely chat and picked up a catalogue.

I returned from Chelsea and, of course, a few weeks went by before I finally got round to phoning Bowdens.  The phone call started well with the charming man at the other end of the phone saying ‘hang on a sec, just let me wash my hands’ – talk about hands on knowledge!  I decided to order their ‘Surprise Collection’ of ten hostas, plus one – the Blue Mouse Ears which I couldn’t resist – Just what it says on the label, blue, small and rounded like the ears of a mouse, but with a remarkably thick texture”.  He gave quite a long delivery time, but when I explained the opening date was only a week away he quickly revised his estimate and said he’d get them to me within a couple of days, (despite the Chelsea rush) which he did.  

The hostas were all fabulous – bigger than I’d anticipated, an interesting mix and in wonderful condition.  I planted up the hosta bed and still had some left over to add to the ‘shady bed’ too.


See below some of the hostas up close (I did bury the lables with the plants, but haven’t dug them all up to identify them, sorry!)   I’ve bought a huge tub of the wool based ‘Slug Gone’ which seems to be doing fine (the only one looking a little holey was the first one up which I hadn’t noticed, but of course the slugs had).  However the OH doesn’t seem to trust in the natural method and has added a few slug pellets.  I’m not happy, partly because I don’t want to be using them, but also because it will now be difficult to see whether the Slug Gone has actually worked.  I think a little pellet picking is in order….

The second bed is the so called ‘shady bed’, which actually gets more sun than I’d originally appreciated, but late in the day.  The surprise success here is the inherited white rose (out of shot to the left of this picture), which rather undermines the theme of the bed, but is beautiful so I just go with it, and have actually used it as a prompt to make this a largely ‘white’ bed.


Above you can see the Fatsia and hellebore leaves, and also the Poeticus daffodils just out, as well as, below, a newly emerging hosta (amongst the honesty seedlings):

IMG_1827However, what’s sadly missing so far is my extra purchase, my Blue Mouse Ears.  Let’s hope they’re still coming.  Fingers crossed.

*For those without relevant aged children “Where are you blue kangaroo?” by Emma Chichester Clarke is a lovely children’s book about a lost toy.   Thankfully it has a happy ending, let’s hope mine does too.