Chelsea Flower show started off in style. Myrtle our tiny black cat decided that she would stow away in the lorry and see what all the fuss was about . Being such a timid cat we were amazed that she went. Luckily Carol, who was helping with the deliveries to the Show gardens, spotted her running out of our lorry into the Alitex glasshouse, at least she has good taste.
She is now safely home showing off about her adventure.
Friday 18th May, we left for the show wearing thermals and coats. We returned late on Saturday night, 26th May, wearing thin shirts ,thin trousers and dark glasses. What a difference in a week.
Having delivered all the plants to the show gardens I was very eager to see what the garden designers had done with our prize babies but, before I could have the pleasure of seeing them, we had to ‘Crack on’ and build our own display.
Sunday, after we finished our display and our stand I went into the great floral pavilion to start my assessing of the floral exhibits as I had the honour of chairing the judging. The exhibits were stunning, even more so this year, considering the weather.
Monday is Press, Judging and Royal visit. We had our fair share of visitors, I was very pleased to see Ringo again and touched that he took the time to find us.
I asked him how the plants he had bought from our 2009 exhibit were fairing. He enthusiasticiy told me where and how he had planted them, proving that he is a great gardener. Talking of great gardeners I was thrilled to see Penelope Hobhouse.
She has known me since I was a child and has always given me good sound advice, which I treasure.
After chairing the judging I had the pleasure of show Prince Michael of Kent around the show. This was followed by the President of the RHS presenting me to her Majesty the Queen during the evening reception, which was a wonderful, especially in this Diamond Jubilee year, and a lovely way to end a very special day.
Tuesday, results day and the gates open to the RHS members. The L’Occitane en Provence garden
won a deserved gold medal which was justice to Peter Dowle, Angie and their team who had worked so hard to pull this off.
Some days before the show Tom Hoblyn, who was creating the Arthritis research UK garden, visited the Herb Farm to check on his plants and saw my large Angelica. He rang his good friend Andy Sturgeon, who was designing the M&G garden, as he knew he was missing a large specimen plant for his garden.
Don’t they look splendid. This garden won a deserved gold medal.
Wednesday, our new seed collections , designed by Hannah McVicar were selling incredibly well, especially the Edible Flowers, which was very exciting so much so that we had to ring back to the farm for more .
In the early evening I was invited to open the Edible and Useful garden at the Chelsea Physic Garden. This was a huge honour and a privelage.
My great aunt took me to see this garden many, many years ago when it truly was London’s best kept secret garden. Today it is one of the best havens in a never sleeping city.
Thursday, before the show opened Jamie Oliver visited to see the show .
It was great to see him looking so well despite his punishing schedule, as I know he had only just returned from the USA.
Also up bright and early that morning was Cleve West, the designer of The Brewin Dolphin garden , sweeping up the plane tree blosom which was falling like snow, making us all cough and our eyes stream. He not only did this, he also did the majority of the watering, proving that he is a true gardener not just a designer.
This garden won the Best in Show, it was a stunningly beautiful garden.
Friday, the heat on our stand had been proving horrendous, we were, according to my phone, 34C, but kindly Mac, with the fresh supply of seed, also brought up a fan to cool us down. So we were back to being human.
It was lovely to see so many people enthusastic about growing plants from seed.
Saturday The final day and it ended on a true high note. We had grown loads of plants for Tom Hoblyn, who created the Arthritis research UK garden. It had been awarded a silver gilt medal, so we were, with him and his team, feeling a bit low. But…..
the public know better and gave it ‘The People Choice’, which was simply brilliant. An accolade to him and his team for all their hard work.
Next week, hopefully, I will blog about the true stars of this magnificent show, THE PLANTS. To whet your appetite here are a few in the Arthritis Research UK’s garden.