The Chelsea Flower Show takes place every year in May, in Spring. This year, due to the pandemic, sees the first ever autumn Chelsea Flower Show. Pumpkins, fruit and vegetable harvests, a russet palette and dried flower arrangements were abundant. I was lucky enough to spend a September Indian summer day there on Friday.
When you arrive at Sloane Square station, it’s easy to find the way, just follow the ladies in flowery dresses to the Royal Hospital Grounds.
I was as entranced with the floral costumes and straw hats as with the garden displays. It’s a bit like Disneyland, there are huge queues. I was less impressed by the gardens you had to queue for such as the ‘eco’ RHS COP26 garden- a hackneyed theme, showing the progression from ugly city landscapes to ‘glorious’ sustainability. I live in a city. I see this all the time. Not interested frankly. And definitely not worth the queue. I found the ‘loneliness and depression’ garden really funny.
The stand at the back and try to push your way to the front gardens were better. I liked the ‘Best in Show’ garden, Guangzhou China: Guangzhou Garden, an elegant oriental garden with bent wood bowers, water features and cool grassy planting.
If you are star-spotter, as it seems most visitors were, you can see TV gardening presenters walking around and talking to the camera. I had a funny incident: I was trying to take a picture of the floral and festooned RHS letters and this woman stood in front to get her picture taken. I waited, but she didn’t move on. I was bewildered. Finally the woman said to me ‘Are you trying to get a picture?’
‘Er yeah, I would like to’ I replied.
She moved aside. She was wearing a purple floral jumpsuit.
‘I like your outfit, it goes with the display’ I said
‘That’s how I roll” she said
I noticed a few people looking at me agog. Then a woman came up and said ‘You obviously don’t watch TV’.
Turns out the woman in the floral jumpsuit was a major TV star in the gardening firmament and basically I’d told her to shift out of the way.
These are some of the things I liked at the show:
Tomato, aubergine, vegetable growers Pennard Plants
Different-sized alliums planted together
Saffron-coloured black-centred rudbeckias
Floors: either polished post ends or recycled metal from old fridges and fire escapes, laid in a herringbone pattern
Graffiti wallpaper based on Timorous Beasties pattern
Vegetable kitchenware from the RHS shop
Flowery dresses and hats
Coral bead plants (Nertera granadensis)
Pumpkins and lanterns
Hanging ferns ‘kokedama’
Dried pressed floral displays
Linen tablecloths, in yellow gingham with a frilly edge
Sedums planted in a kaleidoscope pattern in colanders and under shrubs
Paintings by Venetia Syms
Ceramic blooms by @chiveUK
People who make an effort
English women with our dewy-rain-complexions, interest in gardening and floral dresses with cardigans