A couple of weeks ago, I reached for my most comfortable pair of shoes and made my first trip The RHS Chelsea Flower Show. You might remember that last summer I went along to the Hampton Court show and was blown away by the array of plants on display, so exploring Chelsea was a really exciting prospect, and something which I'd been looking forward to since I booked tickets way back at the start of the year. In anticipation of a packed show ground on what was the final day of the show, I set my alarm for a comparatively early Saturday start- but it really did pay to get there first thing, particularly as there was already a considerable queue of people meandering up the Royal Hospital Road. The show is renowned for attracting some of the best horticulturalists and designers in the world, and seeing their work in situ really was a lovely opportunity, and needless to say I picked up plenty of botanical inspiration to bring home with me:
Although, as predicted, the show was extremely busy, there was still plenty of opportunity to have a look around and soak up the Chelsea atmosphere. Exploring the Grand Pavilion was the perfect way to start the day, looking at the myriad of exhibits which had completely embraced the fairytale brief, including a peony festooned Alice in Wonderland themed tea party! In fact, peonies were on display in abundance across the show, most notably at the Marks & Spencer floral quadrant, which exclusively used British grown blooms including Scented Stocks and Sweet Williams and provided an array of arranging inspiration- from potting peonies in teacups to teaming contrasting tulips for maximum impact. Other Grand Pavilion highlights included the amazing Cacti on show, a deluge of Daffodils and heavenly Hyacinths- which I could smell before I saw!
Moving outside (just as it started to rain, typical British weather!) , I found myself completely overwhelmed by the sheer scale and beauty of James Doran Webb's driftwood sculptures- and found myself wishing that I had a garden big enough to accommodate some of his breathtaking work. As it was, I had to make do with making some not so discreet Game of Thrones references whilst standing under the dragon sculpture! The Beauty of Islam garden by Kamelia Bin Zaal was another huge highlight for me too- with the structural hallmarks and design of the garden reminding me so much of the amazing architecture which I got to explore in Morocco. Ruth Willmot's garden for Breakthrough Breast Cancer was another truly memorable installation, and I think of all the spaces across the showground perfectly captured the notion of the garden as a place of sanctuary, escapism, relaxation and renewal- a message which was even more poignant when exploring the symbolism of the planting and the sculpture at the heart of the garden.
In spite of the rain and mind-boggling crowds, I had a really lovely trip to Chelsea, and am already planning my next flower show adventure. I have a feeling that a repeat visit to Hampton Court in July is on the cards, so I'm sure I'll capture that to share too.
Have you ever been to The Chelsea Flower Show?
(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)