Thursday, 21 May 2015

RHS Chelsea Flower Show - part 2 - more gardens and the Grand Pavilion

Following on from my first post looking at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, here are my thoughts on some of the other gardens I enjoyed.  Firstly, the Living Legacy Garden for Wellington College and designed by Andrew Wilson and Gavin McWilliam. 
I always think it a little harsh to say that something 'only' got a silver gilt medal as it is no mean feat to achieve one, yet there is a sorrow that it did not achieve gold. 
It was a good garden, the burned stump with the guardian sculpture was impressive. 
I might have been thinking about Gort, but not in a bad way (1951 version please, not Keanu Reeves).  It was raining quite hard at this moment so please forgive the raindrops on the lens.

The Beauty of Islam designed by Kamelia Bin Zaal also received a silver gilt, to which I feel I should add ‘surprisingly’.  It was a garden that needed more sun when I saw it, but it was very beautiful, very precisely designed with great lines and superb use of water.


The Morgan Stanley Healthy Cities Garden, designed by Chris Beardshaw had some of the best sculpture of all the gardens and used extremely effectively.  
Good sculpture is one thing, but siting it effectively is a real skill.  The planting worked well and it was a good garden.
Ok, I did have to look twice at the sculpture below as at first glance I was thinking that the facehugger was on back to front, but once I realised what I was looking at it made more sense.  
The garden received a deserved gold medal.

The Perfumer’s Garden in Grasee by L’Occitane, designed by James Basson was truly beautiful, albeit a little rainy). 
I did feel that this garden and Chris Beardshaw’s had got one of the more difficult plot locations.  I feel they are harder to see and easy to walk past, this is not a good thing and especially when reflecting on the amount of work and skill that has gone into making them. 
I loved this garden and I was very glad to see it achieved gold which just goes to show that both it and Chris Beardshaw did not suffer judging wise. The garden had some fantastic specimen olive and fig trees and the planting was some of the best I saw at the show.
The Time in Between by Husqvarna and Gardena, designed by Charlie Albone, is a very effective garden and I was surprised to see it only achieved a silver-gilt.  
It made good use of its plot, the secluded area at the rear of the garden was beautifully designed and the planting worked extremely well.  
It was a joy to see Proteas being used so well.  
They are a hard plant to place in a traditional planting sense and you would not think they would go well with box balls, alliums and iris, but they did and were used to great effect.

Along to the Fresh Gardens, an area I think that should be encouraged even though I look at much of it and walk away perplexed.  A couple of gardens stood out:  the Dark Matter Garden for the National Schools’ Observatory, designed by Howard Millar Design Ltd, is particularly worthy of note.  
The rusted structure worked extremely well with the planting.
The Breakthrough Breast Cancer Garden designed by Ruth Willmott was also extremely well planted.  The silver birches shone in the rain and the planting was superb.

I also really liked the curved walls of the Pure Land Foundation Garden.
The temptation to stroke the walls was almost too much.

Into the Great Pavilion and as usual the stands are just overwhelming with colour, scent and the skill and dedication of the nursery owners.  
Some are huge like The Surreal Pillars of Mexico, with its lavish dahlia planting. 
I always like to stop by Hardy's stand, as every it was at gold medal standard and superbly planted.
Hilliers stand contained this lady with this rather fine get up.
and it was totally compulsory to stop and admire the Cedric Morris irises on the Howard Nurseries stand,.
You glimpse from one plot to another, taking in the sights of Thailand across a sea of hydrangeas.
You also bump into people apparently lost from the 13th century,
and you see the most magnificent displays such as these lupins.
and I leave you with one of the most rainy pictures you will ever see, 
pity the human fence-post.

Monday, 18 May 2015

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 - the damp one

RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of my favourite events of the year.  I always look forward to it hugely, I follow the show gardens' and exhibitors' progress on Twitter and generally watching one or two of the BBC television programmes (can anyone watch them all?) This year I set off on a wet and cold Monday morning tightly clutching my press pass and probably even more excited than usual. There were a several gardens I was really looking forward to;  ones that I was hoping would be that little bit more special.  Last year the gardens were good, I enjoyed seeing them, but they didn't make me really go wow.  This year I had high hopes.
The Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden, designed by Dan Pearson was clearly designed to make my heart sing.  I am very fond of Chatsworth having visited there many times as a child and as an adult with my own children. I am also a bit (lot) of a Dan Pearson fan.
The rain did not do any of the gardens many favours but to be frank, North Derbyshire gets its fair share of rain and the rocks looked rather good wet.  The wild planting also looked superbly lush so the rain was not a great disadvantage.  
The Sentebale - Hope in Vulnerability Garden is also a must-view garden.
I loved Matt Keightley's garden last year so was very pleased he was designing for this year's show.  I actually think the apricot wallflowers in this garden are the star of the whole show.
This one plant has been used to great effect and all you nay-sayers who dislike orange in the garden will, quite frankly, have to think again.  Or not, just leave the orange plants for me.   Did I mention it was raining?
Thankfully when the rain did finally stop I managed to get one photograph of the sun making shadows on the veranda. I was pleased to get this as the garden does shine in the sun.
The M & G Garden, The Retreat, designed by Jo Thompson, one of the few female designers this year, is also a triumph. 
Again it has resonance for me as I enjoy Vita Sackville-West's writing and have been to Sissinghurst and hope to visit again later this year.  The swimming pond is rather wonderful but you cannot see it very well from where the public have to view.
This garden also did not suffer too badly from the rain though the colours were better when the sun came out.
It has very beautiful romantic planting that was full of roses. I liked this a lot.

The Royal Bank of Canada Garden, designed by Matthew Wilson was a very wet dry garden (I can't be the only person thinking of 'drink Canada Dry can I?)
This garden actually had some benefit from the rain as the red cedar decking looked incredible in the wet, the colour just shone out.
It was a very impressive garden with very good planting. 

But actually my favourite was none of the above, I was surprised at which one really caught my eye as it was the Homebase Garden, The Urban Retreat, designed by Adam Frost that on the artists impression looked a little underwhelming but in reality just popped with colour.
This garden also featured red cedar and the rain made this stand out.  
It must be good as James Wong gave it the thumbs up.
I am going to write more about other gardens and other parts of the show later.  If you want my top tip for if you are short of time and cannot get around all the Artsian Gardens then just go to see The Evaders Garden, designed by John Everiss and sponsored by Chorley Council.
It is, in my opinion, the one not to miss.  I did a quick google for Mr Everiss and found that I have liked other work I have seen.
I have to say I think his work is a bit special and would call him one to watch.

The medals will be announced tomorrow, I am useless at making predictions but I would be very surprised if any of the above did not achieve gold. 

I leave you with two additional memories from my day: a driftwood dragon,
and a woman having a very bad hair day whilst being stalked by a unicorn.
Some days are ever thus.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The RHS Malvern Spring Festival - what caught my eye (Part 2)

 In this, my second post on the recent Malvern Spring Festival,  I am going to focus the things that caught my eye.
This beautiful moss frieze was a highlight of the show.  The garden is called 'Out of Darkness' and was designed by Lisa Burchill and Robin Ideson.   It caught many an eye I am sure.  What also caught my eye on this garden was the froth of tiarella.  A plant I have always overlooked, aware of yet unimpressed by.  By seeing it in these gardens I began to think again.
It was a very good garden, well designed and well planted.

I found more tiarella here:
This garden was called 'The Cotswold Way' and was designed by Amy Perkins.  Noticeable isn't it how many female designers there were at this show, worthy of note.  The tiarella again made its presence felt.
It was woven through the planting to great effect.

It was not all tiarella, there were bees too.
This was as close as I could get to this bee.  I have long had a fear of costumes and the bee was not making this feel any less.  A good garden though, it was called The Bees Knees and designed by Martin Wilson in support of the BumbleBee Conservation Trust.
I found this bee far more easy to get close to.

Lorna Davies designed this Alice in Wonderland garden to celebrate 150 since the first publication of the book by Lewis Carroll.
The tea pot water-feature was a nice touch.

Moving away from the gardens and into the Floral Marquee, this stand by Letham Plants really caught my eye.
There were these notices giving information around the stand.  Good information, informative information, information that was really useful to notice and experienced gardeners.
In particular I thought this display of roots was a really good idea.  I did realise however that I neglected to take any photographs of their plants, sorry.

In the plant society tent I fell in love with the displays of roses that had been judged.
It is not something that I could do myself as I cannot grow such perfection, but I loved how they were laid out.

Lastly there was this poor chap who had to carry his head separately.
It looked a little undignified I thought.

I had a very enjoyable day at the show.  I shall definitely be visiting again.