Attending the Chelsea Flower Show has been a very pleasant ritual for the last twelve years in the month of May. This year, however, being the 100th edition, was a little more special. Just a little more hoopla, such as the lily-bulb grower H. W. Hyde showing 100 new lovely varieties, some of them not yet even named. A favorite of mine is the Bougainvillea specialist Westdale Nursery, a second generation family run business. They carry over 200 varieties of this plant, originally found in Brazil in the 18th century.
I always attend on the first “member’s only” day, and try to be there shortly after 8 a.m. That way, I can get to see the individual show gardens with not quite such a big crowd. And can catch some of the designer’s and sponsor’s delight at having received medals. This year, in particular, the Australian Garden (thank you to Trailfinders one of their major sponsors) received a Gold Medal and was named Best in Show. The entire team’s genuine delight at having won these two top honors was touching to see. Imagine 400 tonnes of boulders being sent down from Scotland to be used for this one garden! Well worth every pebble…The gardens and the flowers are always gorgeous and it is one of those amazing logistic miracles that all the plants are at their peak when they come to the show. My hat is off to the many gardeners and helpers who have put in hundreds, nay, thousands of hours of planning and care in order to ensure that everything is just right. Part of my Chelsea ritual also involves watching the BBC coverage of the preparations and the show itself. Altogether, the Chelsea Flower Show gets upwards of 15 hours of air-time, much of it live. Goes to show in what high esteem the British public holds their gardens/gardeners/horticulture/flowers, etc. And, by the way, it is a multi-million pound/dollar/euro business.
The Great Pavillion, where all the nurseries have their exhibits, is such a riot of color, that it is always difficult to decide where to turn first. Of course, it is a photographer’s paradise – one year I shot 1213 photos! Below is a selection from this year’s crop of photos.
I could write a great deal more about this topic. Suffice it to say that no photos or videos can substitute for the experience of visiting the Chelsea Flower Show in person and its taking in its overwhelming flower power … can’t wait for next year…