The final Chelsea stand at Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants

I was very lucky to be invited to the press day for the opening of the Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants final RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibition stand.  Due to the pandemic the Chelsea Flower Show has been moved to September and sadly the Hardys cannot attend at that time, so in the spirit of the show must go on, the exhibition garden, which was to be the largest yet they had built for the show,  has been constructed at the Hardys' Whitchurch nursery instead.

I was not going to turn down the invitation to go as I have been a customer of Rob and Rosy Hardy for more years than I care to think of both at garden shows as an online customer, a chance to actually visit the nursery was one that I leapt at.  The day looked fair for the visit, so as you would expect we had rail, hail and thunder and more flooded roads on the way home than a wimp like me cares to drive through.  It didn't matter; I got to see this wonderful exhibition garden close up. 
It is beautifully and expertly planted as you would expect.  The chestnut 'upturned boat' is an incredible structure; the colour and form sets off the planting so well.  Visitors to the nursery can see this garden and you can buy tickets to walk through and see the exhibit more closely in a timed and covid-safe way by booking here.  Proceeds from the ticket sales are going to a charity that Rosy and Rob Hardy support: Naomi House and Jacks Place  The garden will be there for a couple more weeks yet so there is still time.  

The event was opened by the garden's sponsor: Candide CEO Andrew Philbrick.  Candide are hosting an online 'Festival of Flowers' for all of May and if you have not had a look at what they hosting for the festival and in general then do.  They are building a good gardening community on line, with the ability to buy plants from a range of independent nurseries plus gardening equipment, lists of gardens open and many other gardening related things.  It is a website to get easily enthralled in.
Adam Frost spoke at the event and there a cake and there was fizz.
but best of all there was the planting.....
.... which is stunning.....
and Rosy took us on a guided tour of the nursery including into the tunnels and other backroom areas.
and then we were let loose into the nursery itself.  At which point the heavens did open (of course).

The very good news is that whilst this was the Hardys' last stand for Chelsea, it is not their last stand.  They will still be at garden shows, the nursery is staying open which for me personally is a huge relief.  As said I am a long-time customer and so I would miss not being to access their plants at shows I go to.    I will miss not seeing them at Chelsea, obviously, but one gap in the calendar I can bear.

So if you get a chance to visit the nursery please do, if you get a chance to visit before the garden is dismantled then even better.

Stay safe and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter and Facebook