Everyone’s heard about the Chelsea Flower Show, there’s no doubt about that! So when I was kindly invited to go on Wednesday by the lovely team at the Oxford Shirt Company I jumped at the chance. I picked out the most flowery skirt in my wardrobe and hopped on an early train into London, I was so excited I had barely slept the night before!
The show gardens were just simply amazing. The amount of work and planning that has gone into each and every one is absolutely mind blowing and they all looked stunning, like they had been there for years! My favourites had to the the Manchester Garden designed by Exterior Architecture, I loved the colour palette of green and purple amongst the bee hive, hexagon paving slabs on the ground. I also loved the Kampo NoNiwa garden designed by Kazuto Kashiwakura and Miki Sato, it celebrates the route to health and happiness through plants and it felt like the kind of garden I could easily feel at home in. The Welcome to Yorkshire garden designed by Mark Gregory was just so beautiful and looked like it had been there fore centuries, I could just see myself living happily in that little stone house!
The garden that everyone was talking about however was the RHS Back to Nature Garden designed by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Andree Davies and Adam White. I spent a whole 45 minutes queuing up to walk round this spectacular garden and it didn’t disappoint. It truly felt like you were walking out in the forest and not in the middle of a showground and I loved the playful aspect of the gardens. The rustic playground would be adored by any small child (and adult!) alike and bring them back to where they should be, outside enjoying the great outdoors and being back to nature.
Despite the show gardens being inspirational they were absolutely heaving with crowds, you had to wait a good 5 minutes to get to the front to be able to see the gardens and then straight after you were bustled past onto the next one. It was one of the rare occasions I was pleased to be tall!
Onto the Great Pavilion now which was yet again packed with inspiring displays, I headed straight to the Botanic Nurseries to buy some fox glove seeds and marveled at the array of stunning foxgloves on display. There was so much to see inside this huge tent but to my absolute dismay there were no plants to buy…
One of my favourite gardens from the entire show was nestled inside the pavilion and it was a perfect wartime allotment by Pennard Plants. There was a notice board featuring nostalgic posters, endless rows of veg, wartime recipes dotted around the plot and even a little shelter with a marrow growing over the top!
My favourite part of the show though was actually a tradestand and I ended up going back to it 3 times because I loved it so much! That stand was the greenhouse company Alitex and it had been styled by the lovely Selina Lake. As a huge fan of Alitex greenhouses anyway I was blown away by the beauty of them at Chelsea, the styling was just up my street and I could have moved in straight away! All the vintage bits and bobs, the floral patterns and the cosy additions of chairs and sofas was just perfect. I even spotted a little feeder that Selina had purchased from our stand at Malvern 2 weeks ago!
This would be my dream greenhouse and hopefully one day I’ll be able to achieve something similar, but for now it was amazing being able to live my dream for those mere 30 minutes.
So that was my first visit to Chelsea… my overall verdict? I probably wouldn’t go again if I’m completely honest. There’s a lot of hype around Chelsea which I’m not sure I really understand. Yes the show gardens were amazing and the displays were breath taking but I was disappointed with the lack of plants to buy and boy was it busy. But I think that’s what Chelsea is all about right? It’s about showing and inspiring and that’s what it does, just at a rather hefty price tag. The show was also a lot smaller then I had imagined too, I arrived at 11am and ended up going home early at 4pm simply because I had walked around the entire show 5 times!
I’m so thankful and glad that I had the chance to visit though and I’m so pleased I had the experience. Maybe I’m just too used to going to garden shows with our business or maybe I just got my hopes up a little too much… Either way I did come home with lots of ideas and I treated myself to a few little things for the garden, plus I have a whole new set of memories in my head that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.