It’s Chelsea Flower Show time soon. It is a big treat to go, and I love the whole thing, beginning with scurrying along the road from Sloane Square tube with ladies in floral cardigans and umbrellas and ‘off-duty’ husbands daring Panama hats in often quite chilly mornings. I always look a bit like a cross between a sharply dressed bag-lady and a rambler, firmly believing as I do that soft, firm shoes and layers are required as anything can happen weather-wise. Practicality is my by-word, and a rucksack for all the bits that you accumulate. Makes me sound quite Marple-esque. Not quite! I hope.
As it’s only a month away, I spent some time looking through my photos of past Chelseas just to see what still rang bells for me. I admit it’s almost always the planting that gets me, but there are other great features to remember as well.
I loved this planting by Luciano Giubbilei. It’s so fresh and sumptuous at the same time. The crisp green of the box, the relaxed wavy grass and then the knockout peonies in a brilliant ruby colour, mixed in with bronze fennel, a plant I love, and just a few wisps of blue salvia in the mix. Gorgeous.
Luciano Giubbelei won ‘best in show’ last year, and what a different approach he used this time.
Cool, subtle, restrained and thoughtful, this lovely mix of creamy-yellow and greens, with tall lupins, foxgloves, just a little blue, this felt calming and meditative. It was a big risk to have an immense pool in the garden, but what an elegant pool it was. I loved the bevelled, stepped edges going down deep into the still water, with the substantial, oblong feeder rill leading to the pool.
And sometimes, it is a small element of a design that remains with you, and you recognise why you took the photograph. For example, this bench was a small part of the overall design, but it is an object of beauty in its own right. Adam Frost’s Homebase garden, created a harmonious and enjoyable space which begged to be used. It is always a shame, somehow, that you can’t step into some of the gardens, right there and then.
And a sculpture that was profoundly moving was included in Chris Beardshaw’s garden for Arthritis Research UK in 2013. Beardshaw, from his own experience as a rheumatoid arthritic, created a deeply engaging garden of surprising planting and superb sculptures by Anna Gillespie and Michelle Castles. This bronze crouching figure, covered with acorns, is doubled up with pain and fear at the beginning of the diagnostic journey. It took my breath away.
mmm….it’s only 4 weeks away.