RHS Chatsworth - a new show for the Midlands

I have to state my bias right from the start, I have lived all my life in the Midlands, I am of the Midlands.  The prospect of a new RHS show just over an hour from my home was just too exciting for me to miss.   Luckily I was granted a press pass for the review day and I also bought tickets to go again the next day, yes I was that excited about it.

The Press Day arrived.....
and so did the weather, torrential rain and gusting winds,
Deckchairs threw themselves to the ground in despair,
Mr Titchmarsh had to help with cow-uprighting,
and the stallholders in the very smart shopping area looked rather wet and gloomy.  At 1pm the weather won and we were all sent home.  It was such a shame but I knew the forecast for the next day was much better so I was not downhearted.
Day two and the sun was shining.  The wind dropped and after a rather traffic snarled journey we finally arrived at the show.  There were issues with the traffic, more than I have experienced going to other shows and whilst it did not spoil our day it tried hard to.  I am sure it was just teething troubles for this is a brand new show so I have optimism that next year they will have worked out to prevent it happening so badly again.

Anyhoo, the show is the thing
and it is a show filled with some really interesting things.  There are the conceptual pieces,
that I cannot say I fully understood,
but they did make me stop and ponder for a while
and Chatsworth House made a fantastic background to set them against.
Chatsworth is deeply imprinted into the show, this magnificent inflatable glass house as an echo of the Great Conservatory or Great Stove created by Joseph Paxton back in the 19th century yet now sadly no longer in existence.
Inside the inflatable glasshouse was this wonderful installation, dripping water into a huge paddling pool.  There were also displays of exotic plantings and many bananas.  The bananas are central to Chatsworth history.
I was going to say that there were not as many show gardens at Chatsworth as there are at Chelsea, but as there were fewer gardens at Chelsea this year, I am not so sure.  I was delighted to see that crazy paving is as cool as I have been saying it is.  I knew not removing my crazy paving would one day put me back into fashion.
This is the rather wonderful Tanya Batkin of Vergette Gardens with her silver medal winning garden 'The Movable Feast'.  All the planters are on wheels,
so you can move them around and rearrange them.
The planters had different themes and styles of planting and worked extremeley well.

Best in show and best construction and a gold medal was won by Paul Hervey-Brookes and the IQ Quarry Garden,
which I was privileged to be allowed to have a wander around with Paul.
for which I was very grateful.  It is always fascinating to hear about the thoughts behind the garden.
I loved how the rain from the day before was drying on the natural stone.
and the planting was superb.  The detail that many visitors do not get a chance to see, was just incredible.  The idea of this planting area was that it was a garden based on plants that had started by self-seeding into the area and then have been gently cultivated into a garden.
This bench made of rocks looked so inviting to sit and rest a while on.

Jo Thompson's garden for Brewin and Dolphin was a delight of soft romantic planting,
it has that 'to look this simple it must be very complicated and skillful' look about it, with areas marked by different sized stakes,
used to very dramatic effect.  The garden won a gold medal and rightly so.
The metal structure went out into the river, which does not show well on the photographs but really worked well.
This is the Wordless Cupboard, designed by Sheena Seeks and inspired by a poem by Sylvia Plath called The Stones.  As I have recently went to pay my respects at Sylvia Plath's grave, so I was interested by this garden.

The gardens were all interesting and of very high quality.  Bearing in mind the weather that had been battering them, you could see little evidence of this.

The gardens had great variety and were thought provoking.  Which is how it should be.
and there is also shopping to be had.  I loved this dragon but was talked out of bringing him home with me (maybe next time.....)
There were two huge marquees full of plants.
I fell for this plant, I was transfixed by it.  It is Sinningia leucotricha, it looks like someone has made it as a textile project.
and yes a baby one came home with me.  Carefully balanced into my Chatsworth Garden Show mug which turned out to be the perfect plant protection.

I had a great time at the show.  Yes there were some issues that will need sorting out, but as said at the start, this is as close to a local show as I have.  I not only want to support it, but I can support it happily.  I am already looking forward to next year.


  1. I suppose there were bound to be a few teething problems with the first one, hopefully they will be sorted by next year, glad you enjoyed your visit in spite of the weather.

  2. Dear Alison
    I went to the show yesterday and agree that it is great to have one in this area. I felt it was a really good start - lots to see and buy. Underfoot was squelchy to say the least and it was very busy, but we managed to get round. More seating would have been useful, but I am looking forward to seeing how the show develops. Here's to next year!
    Best wishes

  3. Thanks for taking us along on your photographic tour. I'm glad the sun shone eventually - it has been rather a wet and windy couple of weeks!
    The fashion of the garden plantings is very natural and unstructured these days, isn't it?
    I loved the Sinningia leucotricha and looked up some more pictures of it - as you say, very clothy...
    All the best :)


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