So, firstly, this is my first ever blog – under duress from the team I have been asked to record my thoughts on RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018, so please excuse me if I’ve got it all wrong! This is mine and Jim’s 8th RHS Chelsea visit and every year delights us in a different way. We were slightly later arriving at the showground on press day and arriving just before noon the place felt very serene and calm, not at all what I’d expected. For us it’s as much about the people as the beautiful gardens and we were thrilled to see John Wyer just near the entrance, followed by an effervescent Adam White (LI Chairman in waiting) with Paul Cowell on their way to the RHS lunch. I reckon Adam was on a mission to take as many ‘selfies’ as he could yesterday as his Facebook page was full of them!
It was great to get the chance to congratulate Mark (Gregory) on his amazing ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’ garden – a fabulous labour of love to get every tiny detail of beautiful Wensleydale into his plot. We were overjoyed to hear that he had earnt a well-deserved Gold medal. At the same time, it was also interesting to see Andrew Wilson and hear his views on this year’s show (I won’t share as that’s his privilege). Personally, the garden I really wanted to see was the ‘Embroidered Minds Epilepsy Garden’ as just two short months ago we visited Kati Crome who told us the story of how it came to be. It didn’t disappoint, Cormac Conway did an excellent job on the build and their joint efforts afforded them a Silver- Gilt medal. Ken White enchanted us with story of The Supershoes Laced with Hope Garden – the colours were vibrant, and the lupins matched the graffitied backdrop perfectly, I was disappointed this only got Silver, but I’m no RHS judge (and probably won’t be invited to be!) I always love seeing Rae Wilkinson, she gives such a lovely hug, and her exhibit with Tecwyn of Living Landscapes incorporated all my favourite things – I was desperate to ‘stroke’ the bench, although they were in the throes of repairing the display as an elderly fellow had just driven right through it sending the water bowl flying – poor chap was apparently very embarrassed – they really should have lessons before they take mobility scooters out!
We have been following Robert Barker in Pro Landscaper over the last few months, so we were excited to see his ‘Skin Deep’ space to grow garden. As we arrived at the garden, Robert was deep in conversation but looked like he was happy with the results – this garden showed dramatic effect and makes you think about all the different types of skin condition. Well done to Robert on his Silver-Gilt award.
I really wanted to catch a few minutes with our friend Matt Keightley, but as ever he was in great demand with press and TV cameras – I did love watching him on TV last night and especially sharing his nerves on meeting the queen (Your Majesty, Your Majesty!)
No visit to Chelsea would be complete without bumping into the perfectly turned out Ann-Marie Powell, who said she was enjoying just being able to take in the show without the stress of producing a garden or exhibit for the first time in a long while!
A quick visit to the press tent for a drink of water led to an unfortunate encounter with some female photographer – even though the seat was empty with no laptop or other such paraphernalia in sight – as soon as I sat down she was on me like a rash claiming ‘her’ seat…needless to say we didn’t stay in there any longer than necessary…
Time was cracking on and knowing we had to be out of the showground before The Queen arrived, we hotfooted it to the Great Pavilion to see another great friend, Ian Drummond. Ian has to be my biggest influence ever on indoor plants, I don’t know if I just have the same tastes as him but everything he does has me in awe. Last year I took away a handful of ideas from
his Indoor Garden Design & Ikea stand, and this year I’m already wondering how soon I can get out to implement more of his ideas into our home. Ian never disappoints with his dress sense and his lime green suit looked very dapper. Ian is also very well informed on many of the visiting celebrities and gave us the low down on Sol Campbell as he walked past with his (Barratt Homes heiress) wife. I honestly wish I could be a fly on his wall sometimes…
Oh and before I sign off, there was quite a bizarre moment when Jonathan Ward asked us to pose with a bee (first time for everything) and we also got a small pot of honey to take away.
The only thing we’re left wondering about now is who will win Best Show Garden and The Peoples’ Choice awards – I have Mark Gregory down for both and I know Joe Swift agrees because I could see him writing it down last night!
So now for the rest of the week, I’ll have to get my Chelsea fix from the BBC, every evening will be spent catching up on the lunchtime, and early and late evening shows – I can’t wait!