Friday, May 23, 2008

Chelsea Flower Show 2008

Every year since the early 1990's I've visited the Chelsea Flower Show with boyfriend S, and this year was no exception. When the weather is good like it has been this year, it's a perfect day out. It's also a quintessentially English day out, with people drinking pimms, eating strawberries and cream, listening to the brass band in the bandstand, men wearing straw boaters, and with everyone being exceptionally civilised :-). Along with Royal Ascot and the Henley Royal Regatta, the Chelsea Flower Show is one of the events of The English Season. None the less, as long as one is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society it's easy to get tickets!

At Chelsea, all the exhibitors and designers who create the show gardens go to extraordinary lengths to implement their ideas. Everything in the show gardens is built just for the five days that the show lasts for, and then torn down immediately afterwards. For example, look at the stone arch in the top picture below, which was the central feature in a courtyard carden titled Mist-placed. In its broken down state, the arch with its moss looks like it's been there for many decades. No doubt the moss is real but it's all only been there for about a week! The aim is always to win a Gold Medal, to establish the designer's horticultural credentials. Although quite a few gardens do get Gold Medals, others have to make do with Silver-Gilt, Silver or even Bronze medals, and in rare cases no medal at all.

This year, I was amused to see that garden designer and TV presenter Diarmuid Gavin failed to get a gold medal for the third year running! In the first year that he designed a show garden for Chelsea he got a Silver Medal, then almost made it to Gold the following year with a Silver-Gilt, but crashed back to a Bronze this year. I can't say I disagree either. His designs always seem to incorporate some grand but absurdly inelegant features, which always strike me as failed attempts to make positive artistic impressions. This year there were huge umbrella sized metal daisies, as shown in the second picture below, but although some people might like them they didn't impress me. I think he may have been embarrassed by the fact that he only got a Bronze medal because when I visited the garden it wasn't on display!

The other two pictures below show my two favourite show gardens this year. One was a tribute to George Harrison, the former Beatle who died a few years ago. The other was called The Reflective Garden.

As usual, myself and boyfriend S spotted lots of other gay couples at the event. But of course, although I suppose there's a weak link between flowers and effeminate gay men, this event has nothing whatsoever to do with being gay. None the less, I always enjoy it so I do recommend it, especially for any readers who enjoy gardens and horticulture :-).

A courtyard garden: Mist-placed

Diarmuid Gavin only gets Bronze with The Café Garden

Update 26-May-2008: Just for Monty, here's my picture of Jamie Durie's Australian Garden for Fleming’s and Trailfinder’s :-). The hole in the pond, visible on the bottom left hand side of the picture, was most curious!


Stairs said...

We really lucked out on the weather this year, today being perhaps the most overcast of the show (but it's still warm!). The new hybrid Osteospermums made my year.

A couple of years ago I was involved in setting up a stand - it was a small affair, and tough enough to pull together on time, but seeing some of the real "show gardens" being worked on was really humbling - amazing stuff and shamefully short lived, but that's Chelsea.

Hedgie said...

I love Chelsea! Nice pics. I'm kicking myself for not going this year. There's a big panic about the council making the RHS apply for planning permission next year, and the RHS vowing to move the show somewhere else as a result. In many ways it has completely outgrown the location, but that's part of its charm and Chelsea just wouldn't be the same anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

GB, thanks so much for photos of Chelsea Flower Show. Something we have wanted to attend for years but never quite able to find the time to get away from New England. This was going to be the year--but decided instead on a 12 day cruise out of Dover to Baltic capitols and St. Petersburg in June.

NaijaScorpio said...

Pretty pictures. I esp like A garden for George i guess cos it's so colorful.

Anonymous Blogger said...

those are really pretty pictures. I love the cafe garden

Humming Bird in Hyde said...

Yes, excellent pics GB. How did you ever find the time between work, bf's, 'activities' to also learn to take photos? :-) xxx

Monty said...

The only design we've heard about here in Oz was that of Jamie Drurie's - he who attempted to give a "bloody lecture" to Prince Philip - apparently he got a gold medal for his garden. Did you see it?

GB said...

Yes alastair, no complaints about the English weather this year :-).

Hopefully Chelsea will remain in the Royal Hospital's Gardens, Hedgie. I can't help thinking that if they moved Chelsea, wherever they moved it to would just be another flower show like e.g. the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in July.

I hope you manage to visit the Chelsea Flower Show one year Cody! As I said in this post, it's a great day out as long as the weather doesn't spoil it.

Yes, Sting, I liked the colours in 'A Garden for George' too :-). But since it's an English garden it's colourful, not colorful LOL!

Well Anonymous Blogger, I guess someone was bound to like The Café Garden! Terence Conran was joint designer with Diarmuid Gavin, and perhaps because I often like Conran's designs I think the garden this year is Diarmuid Gavin's least worst effort.

Thanks for your kind words HBH, I've always enjoyed taking photos, but to be honest with you I don't think these photos are anything special!

I did see Jamie Durie's garden Monty. And just for you, I've added a pic of that garden to this posting!

GB xxx

Monty said...

Thanks for that GB! And I do agree, the hole is most curious!

PS dunno if you've read my blog of recent times, but it seems highly likely that I'll be visiting your fair shores in July! We'll have to catch up for a "warm" beer or two! :)

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)