Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yet another Chelsea roundup

I thoroughly enjoyed the show gardens on Main Avenue and at the risk of repeating anything you've already read about them on other blogs, here's my opinion of a few of them.

Firstly, the M&G Centenary garden 'Windows through Time' by Roger Platts. Probably winner of the 'show garden I could most live with'. Beautiful plantings with a great variety of textures. Described in the accompanying brochure as: 'a garden designed to capture what every visitor to Chelsea, whether in 1913 or 2013, would love to take home with them.'  Roger easily achieved this by including what seemed to be every single plant in existence in the garden. I've never seen such a plant list – it covers 5 pages of the brochure. Loads of fabulous specimens though, from huge foxglove spires, to spreading Cornus kousa in flower, and the world's favourite daisy: Erigeron karvinskianus. Not pictured below, but there was a drift of what looked like Achillea 'Moonshine' towards the front of the garden. A bit acid for me, if I'm honest. It was possibly a replacement as the printed plant list showed Achillea 'Summerwine', which I couldn't see at all. A special mention has to go to the M&G bag – so capacious, I got a second one to carry all my plant swag home on the Saturday.

On to the B&Q/Sentebale 'Forget-Me-Not' garden by Jinny Blom, otherwise known as 'Prince Harry's Garden'. A tranquil affair overall with some lovely lumpy planting of Leptinella squalida 'Platts Black', Selaginella helvetica, and pale blue Forget-me-nots in flower. The willow pollards lining one side added a lovely structural, yet airy feel, and gave me the sense of open landscape rather than enclosed garden. Cool grey curving steps led up to what looked like Stoke's missing pottery kiln and the less said about the clay ashtray in the middle, the better. It reminded me of the waltzers, back when the fair came to the village common every Easter and all the 5th year girls tried to get off with the bloke in charge of the bumper cars.

The Delancey East Village Garden by Michael Balston and Marie-Louise Agius was a wonderful representation of public planting inspired by the redevelopment of the Olympic Park into residential areas. While the plant choices themselves aren't my particular cup of garden tea (Zantedeschias and rhododendrons),  I loved the shapes and spaces they'd created and think that the stepped watercourse could be recreated in even the most modest suburban garden.

The Telegraph garden by Christopher Bradley-Hole: I so want to like this garden and indeed feel that I may be judged harshly by the gardening elite for not doing so. It is elegant, considered, in proportion, well-planned and expertly constructed – all the things a good garden should be. But it includes monastic cloisters (who doesn't have those?) and the whole premise of the garden is that it is to be viewed from that cloistered area. Yes, that's right, from the bit that the general public can't gain access to. And Christopher, you complained about the Best in Show being awarded to the Australians. Whatever balanced way you do that and however validated your points are by others in the gardening media, it's always going to sound like sour grapes. On the plus side you did include Tulipa sprengeri, even if you did make me search for them.

So finally, to the Arthritis Research Garden designed by Chris Beardshaw. Simply beautiful. A very personal and heartfelt design and a well deserved People's Choice Winner.


  1. Hi Jules, I've enjoyed reading your very honest review of the Chelsea gardens. My opinion is much the same as yours but I found it interesting listening to other people as I strolled around as there were many different reactions, both on Press Day and when I went back on the final Saturday (yes, we could have bumped into each other without knowing it!). Shame it's all finished, I'll definitely be going again next year!

    1. Lucky you to go on Press Day! I'll make that my 2014 aim.

  2. I like the first garden - my kind of garden and the border in the Chris Beardshaw garden looks lovely. That pathways wouldn't be my style but I can see why it is there taking into account the sponsor.